Posted by marilynch
Consider the Berries
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 home, Barbara responded to my request for her sage advice about time by simply saying, “Time issues are a matter of choices…”
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.
Top photo: My daughter in our backyard.
Bottom photo: My daughter, a few years later, with friends in our sunflower house.