It is rainy and gray today- and I don't mind a bit. Penny, our Jersey cow is outside bellowing to beat all because she is in heat- but she is still a bit too small to breed. The rain can't decide if it ought to pour or sprinkle, so it does both and every now again again I mistake the pipeline machines' rumble for thunder.
There is plenty to do today and all of it indoors. So a rainy day might force me to actually do them.
A neighbor who loves to garden but has only herself and her husband to feed, brought over another bag of green beans for me and plenty of zucchini when she found out that my zucchini plants died prematurely. They got some sort of rust or mildew. (I have never had a year without zucchini coming out of my ears- so this feels very odd.) SO there is that, plus all the canning from my own garden to contend with.
Putting up pineapple zucchini, zucchini relish, pickles, cinnamon 'pickles', pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, green beans, elderberry syrup and jelly are all on the agenda for this week.
I have been reading Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression which I have found fascinating and at times, unbelievable. I can't seem to put it down. Several of the people recount stories about the kindness of people during the Depression- if they had something to help you, they would. Never money- because nobody had that, but a meal. A shirt. A pair of shoes. Something. Those are the uplifting stories. The ones that make you feel good- like you could be that kind of person.
But then, other people recount stories about throwing gasoline on truckloads of oranges and dumping milk in fields in order to boost the price of the commodity when there were starving people dumpster diving for rotten bananas and restaurant scraps and fighting and riots for that truckload of oranges. It is unfathomable to me to ruin perfectly good food when there are starving people that could have used it. Where was mercy then? Where was the Christian virtue of caring for the poor then? All for the sake of a dollar.
During canning season, reading a book about the Great Depression is just about the most helpful book you can read. It makes you thankful for every.single.jar. Every.single.bean. Every.single.zucchini. Every single day of hard work. Every single opportunity to feed your family.
So today I am thankful for that big long putting food up list I have to accomplish this week. I am thankful for it in a way I haven't ordinarily been (to my shame). I am thankful for the kindness of strangers and of friends and of neighbors in my life.
And I am thankful for the testament those kind strangers gave in the form of apples, shoes, and sandwiches during the 1930's that was so etched in the minds of those people who received their kindness, that it was recounted in a published book a few decades later and then read by an ordinary rural woman in the year 2013 who was taught valuable lessons from them. That farm wife never knew when she shared a gallon of milk with a pregnant woman who was hobo-ing in their barn one night- that in 2013, her kindness would well tears up in the eyes of a woman who was sitting outside eating her lunch and devouring that book nearly a century later.
We can't know how far our small acts of kindness toward others will go. We can't know what great effect it might have or on how many people. But kindness has a way of doing that. It is remembered.
Speaking of kindness, thanks to a kindly blog reader who shared seeds with me- I have beautiful sunflower pictures to share with you!
Thank you Celina, for sharing your sunflower seeds with us! They were a joy to receive by mail and have been a joy to watch grow-and now they are absolutely stunning! I have plans to make a HUGE patch of them next year and maybe even sell bouquets of them at the Amish auction down the road!
Cue Matt rolling his eyes..."ANOTHER patch... That woman will make a quilt out of this yard yet."