Maybe I should clarify: I’m not surrounded by expensive sports cars, fondled by fancy furs (yuck), draped with diamonds, or rich in the Oprah sense (nor do I wish to be). But look in my cupboard, refrigerator, or freezer–or scan the kitchen counter, where my autumn fortune spills over–and you’ll find a treasure trove: gifts from my friend’s gardens, as well as my own.
For instance, the other day my friend Karin showered me with plump ears of corn, adorable little green peppers, lemon cucumbers, and most precious of all: a jewel-like jar of tangy crab apple chutney that, spooned over pan-fried pork last night, was truly swoon-worthy. In return, I presented her with a (mostly) home-grown lunch of cilantro pesto-topped pasta and cucumber salad, followed by apple pie. She went home happily cradling a jar of sweet, oregano-infused pickled carrots.
And these are just the latest in a long line of garden gifts stretching back through last spring to garden seasons past. Gifts like:
Jars of plum chutney and a pink primrose plant (from Linda).
Fragrant snippets of sage and rosemary (Carol).
Juicy pears and lush parsley (Brenda).
Tomato starts (Mary) and vegetable seeds (June).
Blackberry wine and peach chutney (Rhoda).
Tart rhubarb stalks–and a rhubarb start! (Andie and Butch).
Plums and tomatillos, corn salsa and currant jam (Renee).
Vibrant dahlias to brighten the dreariest fall day (Trish).
And from my garden in return: gifts of mint and oregano, beans and bean seeds, all kinds of herbal jellies and berry jams, apples and apple butter, peppers and salsa, sunny yellow squash and–of course–zucchini of both normal and monstrous proportions. OK, maybe calling scary monster zucchini a gift is stretching it a bit, but at least nobody has run away in terror after they spotted me hauling one in their direction.
Despite being slow to develop a green thumb, I’ve learned over the years that gardening offers even a so-so gardener like myself some awesome benefits. Not only does it grow you good, healthy food to eat and beautiful flowers to tantalize your senses, it gives you a great physical work-out and relaxing exercise in meditative mindfulness as well. If done organically and with an aim to provide food and shelter to pollinators, birds, and other wild creatures, gardening means a nonstop, never-boring show of flitting dragonflies, creaking frogs, zipping hummingbirds, and so on. It also connects you more closely to this wondrous home of ours, the Earth.
But still, I think it’s this proud, generous, time-honored exchanging of garden treasure that I love best.
Thank you, my gardening friends.
What garden gifts have you given and received this year?
Thanks for reading,