Posted by: Banta | July 1, 2016

Chasing summer, finding ‘enough’

(The following essay by Banta Whitner appears in Plough to Pantry / Summer 2016)

Midsummer dazzles the senses—the smell of trees after rain, a mountain stream on a hot day, the drone of bees in the garden, the sweetness of plump blueberries, the riot of color in a high wildflower meadow. Nature draws us outdoors—to picnic on the balds, hike the Blue Ridge, sample local ice cream and beer, tend the garden, and shop the tailgate markets.

At the peak of the season’s bounty, the farmers’ markets and our own harvest baskets overflow with more than we can possibly eat fresh. A sense of urgency bubbles up—to preserve and can, freeze, dry and pickle enough of this abundance to tide us over the winter months when the fields lie fallow. But what is ‘enough?’ A full pantry? A crowded root cellar?

The measure of enough depends on the lens through which we look at the world. Through the lens of scarcity, there is never enough. Anxious worry and fear huddle together in a half full cupboard, bemoaning the need for ‘more.’ Through the lens of abundance, on the other hand, gratitude appreciates what we already have. “Abundance is not something we acquire,” wrote philosopher and self-help guru Dr. Wayne Dyer. “It’s something we tune into.”

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In this third half of life, I tune in to abundance with every cell in my body. On our small homestead, the garden has grown beyond my capacity to keep up with its demands. My own greedy fault, really. Insisting on another bramble there, a few more squash seeds at the edge of the woods, herbs multiplying in the perennial bed, a couple (okay, actually six) extra tomato plants as a hedge against the blight.

Every day I learn more about sharing the garden with the critters that gnaw the tomatoes and snap off the bean seedlings. I notice the weather signs and gauge what the plants need. In turn, I listen to what my body and spirit need—hands in the soil, a walk by the creek, a good book on the deck. Every day I tune in more closely to the abundance of what is right here, right now.

Even in challenging times, it is possible to find enough. Enough light to see the next step on the path. Enough lung capacity to draw the next breath. Enough love to counter the waves of hate in the news. A few seeds to grow a bit of food, strains of live music from the pub down the valley. The trick is staying present, and finding ways to be grateful.

This summer I will put up jams and salsa, dry herbs and tomatoes, freeze berries and beans. Come September, the pantry will bulge with mason jars and garlic braids. But the pantry cannot measure ‘enough.’ Only the gratitude we express with each breath can do that.

(Plough to Pantry is a quarterly farm-to-table magazine with distribution across western North Carolina, parts of east Tennessee and the South Carolina foothills. If you’d like to subscribe, visit http://www.ploughtopantry.com)


Responses

  1. Great idea to do this. You rock!

    Frances Figart Director of Communications Editor, Plough to Pantry 859.351.9939 cell The Laurel of Asheville | Plough to Pantry Visit us at http://www.thelaurelofasheville.com and at http://www.ploughtopantry.com Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest

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