Us grandkids have followed this woman for many harvest seasons – when we were young and she tended a giant garden; when we were almost teens and she took us fruit picking in Osoyoos or Penticton – when we were just hitting adulthood and watched her and Grandpa pray for and treasure the great grandkids just starting – the way she loves us now no matter how little time we have to spend with her.
She’s taught me how to bake bread, how to catch potato bugs, how to be thorough when I clean – she taught me how not to waste a single thing, and she tried to teach me how to knit (though it didn’t go as well as we’d both hoped). She took me on adventures up in the trees and chased me in summer water fights. She taught me how to memorize verses and she showed me the forgiveness and the choosing of love that are part of the meaning of family. She taught me how to be thankful – and how to look for God in all the things both hard and joyous.
When her and Gramps moved to this little valley and started clearing trees to make a field – how could they know what would grow out of their sweat and tears and years of scrimping, saving, and sewing, to save just a little money here and there?
And yet here we are. The harvest.
Yes, the fields are green and plentiful. You could say they contain the harvest – the neat rows of round bales – the barns full of square ones might testify to that. There’s always enough food on the table and we’ve made room on the ranch for each other. We’ve built up the herd and kept it alive (mostly). The cabins are full of wonderful faces who come and go and get to enjoy the views and wander the valley or walk the river field where Gramps spent most of his days watching over the growing things. These things could all be named harvest if you so chose.
We’ve been busy this past month, stocking up for the winter – canning tomatoes and fruit, shucking and freezing corn, making soup, taking turns making plum jam with Gram. You could call it harvest – the fruits of the summer growth, the things that will keep our tummies full.
But that’s not what Gramps or Gram would say was harvest – merely the tools to make it happen. It’s the moment’s in-between and during the work that are the harvest – it’s the conversation, the jokes – Beck making a goofy face at me while she steals some corn.
It’s the chatter and play of the kids in the background and around everyone’s feet – the constant arrival of babies to hold and treasure. The reminder that life is precious and worth living even in the mundane.
It’s that we do the work together. That we enjoy each other – that nothing important needs to be said (unless it does) to just be a family and be thankful we have each other even when on occasion we get on each others nerves or disagree.