Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The gift of gardening

Yesterday I lost an earring and found a pair of glasses. It reminded me of the balance of life—things come to us and go away. Sometimes what comes to us is totally unanticipated. It might be something we never would have put on an “I need” list yet when it arrives we discover joy in the richness it has added to our lives. We realize it’s a true gift from God.

Gardening is like that for me. It wasn’t something I had written on my “To do before I die” list. I hadn’t thought that much about how I had become a gardener until recently when I was asked to give a talk to a group of high school students about how I, as a writer, brought green spaces into my life. I called it “Writing as a gardener . . . gardening as a writer.”

As I prepared the talk, I remembered the disillusionment I felt after a few years in the work world—going into a building to work before 8:30 every morning and not leaving until 5:00 or later. It seemed so unnatural to be that disconnected with nature when God had given us so much beauty and goodness. Writing requires substantial time sitting at a desk and putting down the words, but it seemed there should be a better way than doing this in an office cubbyhole every day.

Yet there were also times when, as a journalist working on an assignment, I learned about the benefit of planting beans with corn in Central America. I later interviewed Fr. Al Fritsch at Appalachia Science the Public Interest about living simply and making organic gardening and edible landscaping part of that lifestyle. I toured farms in Appalachia, met with farmers in Honduras and began to ask questions about the food I ate. Over the course of several years, my work as a journalist unearthed my desire to integrate gardening and more outdoor time into my life.

So I am blessed with the lifestyle I now have that allows me to write, most days from my home, and get up from my desk for a walk around the yard, a weeding break or time for harvesting the vegetables. Tonight I’ll eat chili made with our own tomatoes and roasted vegetable—all from the back yard garden. I’ll also be thankful, once again, that God dropped this wonderful gift into my life.

Fall Roasted Vegetables

Peel and cut into uniform pieces butternut squash, onions, peppers and potatoes. Cut beets into slightly smaller pieces because they take longer to roast. If you have okra to add, cut off the ends and leave this in slightly larger pieces. Experiment with the vegetable mixture you like.

Toss everything with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Put on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in 400 degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes. The length of time the vegetables take to cook will depend on the size you cut them. Enjoy vegetables alone or mixed with rice.

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