The Wheel of the Year has definitely turned. We have had mild frost. The trees are lightly touched with color - harbinger of the display of full autumn to come. We are merely days away from Oiche Shamhna - Samhain - the last harvest festival of the season, though most of the world knows it as Halloween and thinks in terms of the harvest of candy, garnered by the age old chant of "Trick or Treat!"
We have a garden, several in fact - one is a hay bale garden, built up and ringed with tree stumps. It produces all kinds of things - herbs, one year a volunteer pumpkin vine that made us very happy, cantaloupe, etc...and tomatoes.
LOTS of tomatoes.
We do not buy tomatoes in the growing season - late spring to early autumn our garden delights in great over abundance of them! Our other gardens produce strawberries and cucumbers and raspberries.
We are not selfish with the tomatoes - I know the lower vines' tomatoes get raided by possum and rabbit - and if there isn't a raccoon in the mix I will surprised, though I have never seen them around here. The higher tomatoes with nibbled bites were a little tougher to fathom, until the night I startled a young deer into flight across the yard. They are all welcome to the bounty - we still have more than we can keep up with, even with their help. Tomatoes go on salads, used in sandwiches and burgers, eaten straight off the vine and of course - Fried Green Tomatoes! We have been very blessed. We live near poverty level - it is no small thing to have an over abundance of food in ones yard!
But the growing season is ending - there were three tomatoes left - the ones pictured above, and the vines were showing the marks of frost and time. I harvested the last three, and then pulled the vines and the tomato cages and frame work out, setting aside the latter to store 'til next year, and gently placing the vines on the burn pile. Any remaining frost damaged fruit I let fall in the garden it self to compost and then shoveled the dark rich earth around and turned it.
Tonight I fixed the last meal of fried green tomatoes until next summer, giving thanks for our sturdy little garden's bounty. Later tonight, I will take a small offering - a libation - out for the fey, or the genus loci, or the land wights - or perhaps for the very Earth itself to give back the gift we have been given. Of course, there is more to be done - some turning and mulching, and pine bark to insulate and protect the garden through the long winter. I give thanks to God for the good earth, remembering that we are NOT, as mistranslations of Genesis imply, in domination over Creation, but a part of it and hold it in loving stewardship and care.
But tonight, we can say our harvest is safely in, the wheel is turning and we have eaten once again of the food of the land we live on. What is more sacred than this - the land that you care for and til and plant with your own hands, that sustains you and feeds you? Tonight I will stand on holy ground, this small circle of good earth and give honor and respect with a grateful heart!