The Milkweed Diaries

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Gratitude

"When you boil it down, I am a sap." - My sister Mary, 12/24/09

This evening, I pulled some of our homegrown winter squash out of storage to cook for Christmas Eve dinner. I was cutting into a butternut when I started to tear up. Scooping seeds and pulp out of beautiful orange butternuts and creamy yellow Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Squash, I just felt overwhelmed by gratitude.

The moment of opening up a winter squash--this hard, dry object--and discovering luscious, nutritious, soft, smooth food inside is incredible enough. Even though I have cut into thousands of winter squash in my lifetime, it just never stops amazing me. And knowing that we midwifed this food into the world in our very own garden and carefully kept it in storage for a midwinter feast just feels like a profound gift.

As I stood there at the chopping block scooping seeds with my eyes teary, Vienna Teng's "City Hall," which gets me every time anyway, came up on Pandora, and it was all over. I just cried and scooped, scooped and cried.

While it is probably not winter squash and gay marriage ballads that do it for most people, 'tis the season for gushy emotion, gratitude, and loving sweetness. For me this time of year is about rituals of connection with the family I've chosen, with the family I was born into, and with the family that extends out to all living things on the planet. It was great to let the emotion flow and know that there's a big pool of this sort of gushy love and gratitude out there right now.

CF and I are headed over to my sister's house in a bit for Christmas Eve dinner with my family, and we'll be bringing that emotion-infused winter squash and other concoctions featuring cabbage from Flying Cloud Farm, onions, garlic, and celery from our garden, carrots from Gladheart Farm, and Spinning Spider goat cheese. I'm so grateful for the family I was born into and the family I've found and formed in my life so far. Though I don't celebrate Christmas in any sort of Christian way, I am deeply grateful for the gift of nourishing food grown with care, passed down from food-growing ancestors, and for rituals that celebrate our connection to each other.


Thomas said...

Nice blog and content. I think you will really like your new hoophouse to extend your growing season, or to grow food in during winter. Following Coleman's advice, we converted one of our unheated small hoophouses (10' x 35') into a winter greens house with much success. Every year, we plant kale, spinach, and other cold hardy greens in three of our six 4'x8' raised beds around the beginning of September, then plant the other three beds in early October. The crop planted in September reaches a nice height by December and we're able to harvest greens throughout the winter from these beds. At night we provide an additional layer of insulation to these three beds using a spun-bonded blanket that protects an additional eight degrees or so. The other three beds of greens, which we do not cover with the blanket during the winter, basically go dormant and start growing again in late winter/early spring...just in time to provide a continuous supply of greens since we've already made a pretty good dent in the other three beds.

Milkweed said...

Thanks, Thomas -
It's so encouraging to hear about fellow hoophouse growers' experiences and great to get some tips (I love the staggering in harvest time that you get with half covered and half not). Can't wait 'til we have fresh greens all winter - this time next year!