Tuesday, August 14, 2012

All Things Bright and Beautiful—Carolyn Wilker

When I was a little girl in Sunday School, I learned the song “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” As a five-or six-year-old, it didn’t matter who wrote the song. Neither was it important that the song was ages old, only that it was something that I cared about.

On researching this song, I see that it was written originally as a poem in the 1800s, specifically for young children. Cecil Frances Alexander wrote about flowers that open, ripe fruit in the garden, birds that sing, and how God made and loves them all. After singing the song so often in Sunday School, much of it is deeply rooted in my memory.

One line came to me as I walked through our local farmer’s market last week: “The ripe fruits in the garden, he made them everyone.” I knew what I would write about this week. Such a wonderful array of colour—the red of apples and raspberries, the green of pears, peas and beans,  pink blush on peaches, purple eggplant and so much more.

No end to the bounty from people’s gardens. It reminded me of the garden we had when I was growing up and my first garden as a young 4-H member.

Tomatoes from my garden
It’s no wonder then that I come home with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Peaches, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, red pepper and more.  No wonder my kitchen smells like a canning factory in summer. This summer it has already been filled with the scent of tomatoes and peaches as I made fruit relish, and cucumbers and dill for dill pickles. There will be peaches too, when I get to them.

Of course, it’s a lot of work keeping a garden. We have one at our home—very small compared to the one my mother kept, or even my garden when I was 13. We prepare the soil, cultivate and till until the soil is soft and friable. After marking out long straight rows, it’s time to plant seeds; then after the plants start to grow, the thinning and the weeding. I wondered some days if we’d ever get to the end of the row.

 There was time in the garden picking strawberries, peas or beans, and afterwards podding the peas and “snibbling” the beans. We relied on sunshine and rain for the plants to produce their fruits, then ate the produce fresh from the garden, and preserved even more for winter. The overflow we shared with our neighbours or friends who came to our garden to pick what we didn’t need and put extra food on their tables.

Additionally, for two summers our family grew cucumbers for the Matthews-Wells Company. We had green fingers, literally, from picking every other day, rain or shine. Every time we passed the pickle aisle in the grocery store for years afterwards, we remembered those hours in the garden.

At the end of a growing season, after all the harvest was in, my mother had the satisfaction of enough food stored up to feed her family until the next summer. Not too much, but enough in jars and freezer bags. Then in winter, my mother bought only those fruit or vegetables we didn’t grow, and we ate well until the next growing season.

 This morning after writing my column, I went out to my garden and picked fresh tomatoes and basil. We still rely on the sunshine and rain—and during a drought, our water barrels.  I feel that same satisfaction when harvest is in, and in winter when we eat peaches, tomatoes or beans, that we can enjoy the food before us.

 Indeed, we have many gifts from our creator who has good things in store for us.



Peter Black said...

Carolyn, I love that hymn from my childhood and very much enjoyed your descriptions of the veggies and reminiscences of your family's gardening delights over the years. Very nostalgic for me, and for many of us, I'm sure.

Our Creator God and Heavenly Father has provided well for Creation. Hmm, if only we humans wouldn't mess things up, there would likely be plenty for all.

Donna Mann said...

And all of this in the middle of family wedding plans? Just keep singing those wonderful old hymns and the rest will fall into place.

Popular Posts