Reflecting on Food….

The temperatures dropped into the 50’s last night, making for good sleeping weather. The frogs and insects are serenading us in the early evening, their last songs before the cold weather sets in. Summer is not all that is ending here in Fauquier County. So I was drawn to this photo of chickens at a family owned farm taken by my friend Sarah. These chickens don’t have much in common with the Dolly Parton variety often sold in the supermarkets. No growth hormones or strange chemical cocktails for these chickens, just their feed and some scraps of vegetables. I like knowing the farmers that grow our food. Our family eats locally grown food as much as possible. We believe that buying local and eating local is one of the best ways to be good stewards of creation. We support our neighbors and friends, and reduce the distance from the farm to our dinner plates. Folks talk about conservation, and neglect to consider how much fuel goes into their food. Local produce in the grocery stores sometimes means grown in the US, not grown in your county or state. Even the farmer’s markets include trucked in produce to meet the expectation that any and all fruits and vegetables should be available year round. So I am sad to say that a farmer’s cooperative that greatly aided in our quest to eat locally is closing. Farmergirls.net offered a way to easily purchase food from a variety of local farms and kitchens. This service was web based, with vendors posting what was available each week and customers using an online shopping cart to choose their purchases. Our local food was then sorted and bagged for pick up. Farmergirls.net sought to connect people with local farms, and they have succeeded in doing just that. Many customers now deal with the farms directly, rather than going through the cooperative. Many families now purchase more than their produce locally, buying meat, eggs and dairy from local farms. But not all of us have time to stop at half a dozen locations, and Farmergirls.net will be sorely missed. Take time today to consider where your food was produced, and what went into it. Learn more about buying local and eating local. Start small, perhaps with apples this autumn, or some local honey. If you prefer to eat out, learn more about your favorite restaurant. Support your local farms and learn what a difference it makes to your dinner table. Photo by Sarah Gulick

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Reflecting on Independence….

It was cool this morning, with a hint of fall in the air. Yet by this afternoon, there will be no doubt that August is still here. We woke up early today for my daughter Tori’s student orientation. We have been spending a lot of time in the car this summer, with Tori as driver and me as passenger and instructor. Next week she will be taking behind the wheel, and will have her license in her own right. Tori will be taking another leap into adulthood, another step toward total independence. So I was drawn to this photo of a squash blossom, taken by my friend Cecilia about a month ago. By now, the blossom is long gone, and the squash it produced has been picked and eaten. We know the blossom becomes a squash, but it always seem hard to remember looking at just the blossom. So it seems with driving, and all the other hallmarks of maturity. It seems inconceivable that my tiny baby could be driving. Sixteen years have gone by like the blink of an eye. I recall the first day of kindergarten, and how she rushed into school without looking back. Then there was the first sleepover, the first overnight camp. She is ready, but I am not. Yet independence is the goal of parenting. We must let go of our sons and daughters, entrusting them to the same God and Creator who is their true father. As Christians, we believe all belongs to God, than we are stewards of God’s creation, rather than owners. Yet when it comes to our children, we often overlook that fact. Our goal as Christian parents is to guide our children in the path God has prepared for them, to help them find their own calling in this life and to cultivate sound judgment in the face of an often tempting and bewildering world. We can only succeed in this formidable task with God, for alone we shall surely fail. So I lay my trepidation at the foot of the cross, trusting in God, and letting go for her sake and mine. Take time today to consider what independence means to you. Help another to develop skills to become more independent, or to remain independent in the twilight of life. Remain available, doing less and being there more. And most importantly, trust in God. How much more will the same God that tends the lilies of the field and the birds of the air care for those you love? Photo by Cecilia Carr

Reflecting on Presence….

The sticky summer heat is back with a vengeance. The pleasant break in the weather lasted long enough for us to enjoy last weekend, but now it is everything we expect for July in Virginia. So I was drawn to this photo of my dear friend Marge’s silly goats. A few times a day, Marge opens the gate and the goats roam around the pool. On this day, the goats decided lounging around the pool was more like it. When we visit Marge, we often sit in the living room and watch the goats through a wall of windows. The goats are very amusing, often jumping around and playing games with one another. Yet when it is hot like today, even the goats settle down and relax by the pool. When my daughter Tori was a toddler, we would often go to the pool after I picked her up from daycare. We seldom stayed more than an hour, but that hour made all the difference in the world. If my husband Mark wasn’t traveling, he would pick up fried chicken and meet us there. We would have a simple picnic, lounging by the pool like the goats. When Mark and I both worked full time, our leave was often consumed by childcare responsibilities. We seldom took much vacation, so these few hours by the pool became a sort of vacation. We took time to enjoy each other and relax, rather than rush onto the next item on our never ending list of things to do. So perhaps these goats are not so silly after all. To be present to the joy and beauty that surrounds you is to dip you toe into the vastness of eternity. Take time today to relax and enjoy the company of loved ones and the simple pleasures surrounding you. Don’t wait until you can get away to take a vacation. Enjoy what life has to offer, here and now. Photo by Marge Rumbaugh

Reflecting on Simple Pleasures….

We stopped at the grocery store this morning after running errands. All we really needed was bread, but we went home with two bags of groceries. Sometimes you just don’t know what you need until you see it. So when I saw these beautiful blueberries from Hammonton, NJ, I knew we needed them. I grew up in Southern New Jersey, where my mother’s family grew blueberries and cranberries. In that area, the soil is very sandy, and packed full of nutrients. Blueberries love this soil, and grow in abundance there. I remember going to our cousin’s farm to pick berries, then packing them up in the back of the station wagon. My Mom and Aunt Audrey, along with my sisters and cousins and I, would all pile into our old station wagon. On one trip, I ended up in the back with the berries. I must have fallen asleep. I woke up as we drove home, looking up at the sunlight filtering through the trees and smelling the berries all around me. Part of me wanted to sit up and eat the berries, but part of me didn’t want to move. There was something magical about that moment, and I wanted it to last. The car was quiet and the radio was playing very low. No one was talking. I suppose I wasn’t the only one that had fallen asleep. It seems all the simple pleasures of my childhood are wrapped up in that one memory. I was surrounded by those I loved and the beauty of living in that particular corner of the world, all together and at peace. Take time today to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, to resist the temptation to make life more complicated than it already is. Enjoy the sights and sounds and smells of your surroundings, and the company of those you love. God blesses us with such bounty, and God is pleased when this bounty pleases us. Photo of blueberries at Emery’s Farm in New Egypt, NJ by my cousin and fellow childhood blueberry picker, Diane Brooks Myers

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