a modest harvest
If you looked at our backyard in Google Earth, you would mostly see a canopy of green and very little else. The abundance of shade, the variety of textures and colours and the role the trees play in balancing out the oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are just some of the benefits of our tiny forest. We also enjoy how many critters frequent our urban wild space and that makes for quite a bit of natural entertainment.
But there is a downside to this canopied space. Our attempts at growing food have been nothing short of comical. On a very low scale and in the spirit of simply growing something, we’ve experimented with location, containers, soil support and variety of seeds and seedlings. We’ve vacillated between over-attention and borderline neglect. We’ve consoled ourselves that we buy the bulk of our produce from local grower families at our weekly farmer’s market for less than we’ve spent on trying to grow it. We’ve decided the missing ingredient for success is hours of sunlight that is not possible unless we remove trees.
This year’s modest harvest was the smallest ever with a handful of potatoes and green onions as well as three radiant sunflowers. The foraging wild things ate the tomato flowers and budding fruit as fast as they grew despite having to navigate chicken wire to do so. Alas, there were no colourful pictures posted triumphantly across social media of our canned, roasted, baked, frozen, or fermented harvest. We’ve accepted that the shade trees provide more of what we need now. More than merely an abundant harvest.
In this time, the term “modest harvest” has been apropos of many areas of my life. Despite the changes in expectations and pandemic protocols, it still seems as if I’ve been trying to walk on and walk strong through mud with little to show for it.
Leaving a long career to start a new business. Staying connected with family and friends. Listening to my body’s wisdom. Accepting the slower pace and increased stress. And noticing the collective and individual impact of these times. Abundance is not the word here. Modest is. And, with even just a touch of gratitude, that is joyously more than okay.
As fall decays into winter, the times of extended reflection will be there for the taking. Time to retreat. Reflect. Rejuvenate. And to accept that the gift of this season may very well be simply a modest harvest.
Are you in need of tips for creating your own retreat time this winter? Stay connected with me to learn more. This December, we’ll explore at-home wellness retreat experiences that you can use for a few minutes, hours or days through the winter. Click “Stay in Touch” on my website at for more information on how to develop restorative hibernation skills.