My husband is a kick ass gardener. I keep humans alive and humans only. But, because I like to cook (this was a learning process), I get to be the one to utilize the harvest of his hard labor. And it is sweet and lovely and so stinking cheap. It's awesome. It makes me feel like a pioneer lady or at the very least a true Northwesterner when I can something. However, sometimes the rain comes before your tomatoes are ready. And if you run out of time or energy to pull them and let them ripen in a brown bag, they often rot outside.
However, never fear, I was raised by a child of parents of the depression (my dad just turned 82)! And I am the youngest of SEVEN. I remember Dad adding milk to the Ranch dressing bottle and shaking it to get every last drop. I don't like wasting things, even things that are easily purchased at the store for way less work than the salvaging process. My safety-conscious husband is often grossed out by my frugality as it sometimes manifests as me cutting off mold from cheese.
I am in a harvesting season. Literally, it's the fall and I have a friend who keeps posting gorgeous fall photography and asking people what they're harvesting. But also metaphorically, because I'm going through a hard time. This hard time is giving me a lot of real life opportunity to utilize new skills. Skills that I've dug up from the earth of my soul, dusted off and tried to use. And I'm so pleased to say, these skills have staying power and I couldn't be more thrilled or proud of this emotional harvest. It has been painful but I have found out that I can indeed be the person I want to be both in the world and in my personal life. I can do this.
As is often the case for me, some of the tomatoes I pulled today were partially rotten. Some were partially green. But, the rains come when they want, right? So, the tomatoes were brought in and the green ones are in a paper bag and the semi-rotten ones were put into a pot. We will have fresh marinara tonight! In order to not taint the sauce, I can't just plop my dirty, partially rotten, partially green tomatoes into my pot. I had to wash them and cut off the rotten bits and salvage the ripe fruit remaining. As you can imagine, this is messy. I love messy so that is not an issue, especially if the messy means I'm putting hard work and nature to good use. I hate to see a beautiful thing wasted. In the same way, the harvest I'm reaping in my relationships is giving me a chance to sift the beauty from the ashes. This has been really hard but it has also been incredibly beautiful. When you befriend your pain, you befriend yourself. And my pain and I feel very attached at the hip these days.
So I got to spend a little time with my very sharp paring knife. And I nicked myself on both hands. This process is not only messy but can also be painful. Sometimes your tools are too sharp or too dull and that makes it awkward and possibly even dangerous. But for this perfectionist, I can honestly say that attempting to redeem partially rotten fruit is more about the process of putting it to use than it is in what the pot will reap in a few hours. And that, my friends, is a really big deal. Perfectionists care about results. Process is what's in the way. So for me to be able to recognize that making this sauce isn't about saving the $3 on a jar from the store but about sifting through the harvest and making something useful is true growth. And I so enjoy my work turning into something of use for me and for my family.
Rain falls from the sky and lands at random. Everyone gets rained on at some point. It's not really about avoiding the rain or even the subsequent mold, though the seasons where it misses you are lovely. The sun is warm and bright. It's about turning a pile of damp fruit into something that benefits you. Let's face it: it's easier and more practical to take the semi-rotten fruit and throw it away. And there are seasons we do that. Where it's just too damn much. And that's okay. But I guarantee that the times you choose to slice off the rotten and use the ripe, will be the days you feel a sense of pride and happiness. Reap the harvest you've been working towards. You deserve it.