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Consider the Berries

Sierra in the same berry patch.

Consider the berries in my yard. I don’t feed them or water them or prune them or stake them or nurture them in any way.  And yet they feed me, offering luscious and abundant fruit, year after year.

They also serve as a reminder that it’s not all up to me, not all mine to do.  Or, as it’s put in the Book of Matthew, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin….So do not worry, saying ‘What will we eat?’…all these things will be given to you.”

My dear friend Kay often reminds me of such truths when I fret about time and to-do lists and getting “enough” done.  Recurring concerns about time—which, thankfully, rotate with feeling blessedly at peace about time—are not new in my life.  Lest I try to convince myself that it’s a new challenge, I have evidence to the contrary in the May 1997 issue of Comfort Food for Mothers, published in Boulder, Colorado.  Publisher Angela Parkins interviewed me on various topics, including “balance.”  And there I acknowledged, “My most admired friends, as do I, still cycle between being at peace with time and feeling overwhelmed.”

This week, during a visit by phone, a friend from Montana acknowledged his own struggles with time. He is Crow and was preparing for the annual Crow Fair some miles from his home.  Simultaneously, he was tending to other family members’ needs and also endeavoring to wrap up a work project.  In sharing his own “wanted to get more done today” wishes, he asked if I knew what the three worst things were that the white man had brought to the Indian.  Those three, he said, are disease, alcohol, and clocks!

Ah yes, clocks change how life is lived. And they can change how we see ourselves, our lives, and our accomplishments.

In that 1997 Comfort Food interview, I shared wisdom from my friend Barbara Rowe, who passed away on May 3, 2008 at age 92.  Barbara and her husband, the late Bob Rowe, were founders of Friends of the Farm, a national organic farming organization chartered in 1979 and based in Dalton City, Illinois (about 40 miles from Chestnut, where my parents farmed when I was born).  The Rowes were the largest organic spelt growers in Illinois, and probably in the nation.  After a Christmas Eve 1996 visit in my Monterey County home, Barbara responded to my request for her sage advice about time by simply saying, “Time issues are a matter of choices…”

Barbara Rowe on her 1996 visit to Monterey County.

Barbara Rowe at Jacks Peak, 1996

So today, while outdoors doing my favorite domestic task (hanging out laundry), I chose to stop and pick those berries.  Just to eat them, right off the vine and still warm from the sun.  Not to make a pie, although I like baking for my daughter’s dear music teacher.  Not to put in the freezer, so there will be some for smoothies later.  Not to make jam for holiday gifts.  Not to walk some over to share with the neighbors; that can happen another day. No, I had no plans to do anything else with the berries at all. I was simply going to stand there and eat them.

And as I savored the sweet taste of berry after berry, I remembered:  Consider the berries.  Relax.  No worries.  You never feed them, and yet, they feed you.

Sunflower house 1996 - cropped

Top photo: My daughter in our backyard.

Bottom photo: My daughter, a few years later, with friends in our sunflower house.

 

  1. What a precious reminder during the end of the summer rush-into-fall.

  2. Angela Parkins says:

    What a treat to google my name for fun and to see this. Your writing is poignant and I consider it a pleasure to have been associated in any way. While “Comfort Food for Mothers” went under and a subsequent business attempt at a line of clothing (Wild and Wooly Wear, using ecospun fleece and organic cotton) did the same and I am back in the social services, I hold as dear all the people I met and all I got to be a part of in those ventures.

  3. marilynch says:

    So nice to hear from you, Angela. I recall with fondness your nurturing mothers and others with your publication. You who support people in parenting well make a tremendous positive difference in this world, and I know you must be continuing that good work in your current employment and activities.

    As for the organic cotton and other eco garments, you were ahead of your time! Even though those garments haven’t yet found the level of receptivity among consumers that organic foods have, I remember when organic foods were seen as unnecessary. And now not only are stores such as Target carrying some organic foods, they are also carrying organic cotton sheets.

  4. Mari I do so enjoy and appreciate your writing. This personal touch and the darling picture of Sierra brightened my day.

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