When fall sails in on a high alpine breeze, I taste the melding of sweet and tart, juicy, crunchy homegrown apples. My childhood home along Middle Creek near Four Corners was a garden haven with towering sunflowers and hollyhocks, plenty tall enough for a four-year-old to hide in. We ate tomatoes from the vine, pulled carrots from the soil, plucked dewy raspberries from their prickly reeds. After the first hard freeze, in the brilliant frosted mornings before school I’d gently clamber up arthritic apple branches and clutch cold apples in my hands, enjoying them back on the ground, and always sharing with the horses.
Harvest is a long-awaited ritual for those who’ve placed their heart in the soil. It’s work— sometimes backbreaking work—but it is filled with reward. Simple moments like biting into an apple spill over, fulfilling the first of our primal needs: food.
I am an only child and harvest for my family meant the three of us—my mom, dad, and I—labored together in the garden. Dad dug the potatoes while I pulled them from the ground and Mom prepared them for storage. Mom picked the beans then together we snapped them for canning. And canning, with the three of us in the kitchen dodging sweltering steam and boiling jars, meant loads and loads of water baths and Kerr glass rattling under pressure.
Harvest is a long-awaited ritual for those who’ve placed their heart in the soil. It’s work—sometimes backbreaking work—but it is filled with reward. Simple moments like biting into an apple spill over, fulfilling the first of our primal needs: food.
I’m a sucker for nostalgia—yes, I still have a box of school papers that I can’t quite give up— so I mean no cliché by describing those special times of my youth and then carrying on like I’m about to. But so much has changed since those formative kiddo years. Memories of harvest, for me, are memories of what my parents and I looked like when we were still a nuclear family, before the big parental divorce two years ago and before I married my husband. So fall is poignant for me. It serves as a reminder of where I come from.
In this Fall 2020 edition we look at the ways harvest continues to bring people together, honoring traditions and ritual during a season of life defined by the words “social distancing.” We also explore the interconnection of land, people, and crops—the three ingredients that yield harvest.
COVID-19 continues to send waves throughout our community and unknowing has quickly become the newest way of knowing. But I’m comforted by the fact that fall still means harvest and, for many, harvest still means together. Community is, after all, another of those primal needs; we all need human connection.