Monday, June 15, 2009

Beans, Herbs, and Pea Pods

I'm back from the Homeschool Convention! ...Sore body and all. (I guess my tumble was harder than I thought - I had an extremely sore body over the weekend. :):) )

The convention was absolutely marvelous. I know I said before we left that I was hoping to meet some homeschool graduates - I didn't, but I met several very nice other people, and was blessed very much by the speakers I heard. And it was lovely to be able to just spend some time with my family.

There's something odd about me; I have a terrible time taking notes. Perhaps it's because, as a homeschooler, I didn't grow up listening to a teacher talk all day while I took notes, or perhaps it's just my personality, but when I hear someone speaking and know I'm supposed to take notes, I get overwhelmed. I want to write down everything they say. Then, of course, I can't even focus on what they're saying! It took me until I was well into my late teens before I got the hang of note-taking. But even now I don't usually take notes. I prefer to cram it in my head.

But at this convention, I took notes.

That's how good it was.

I hope to share my notes with you over the next few days. I'd like to share some tonight, but I also want to tell you what I did today, since that's freshest in my mind. (I have to organize my notes anyway.)

I canned green beans!

Four quarts, to be exact. All by my lonesome, too! Mom usually does the canning here, but she had something she had to do today and, as any gardener knows, beans don't wait for anyone.

So out I went, around 10:00, to sit in the bean patch and pick. I was thrilled by how heavily the beans have come on - in the two days we were gone, they went from pale purple blossoms to plump green beans. The picking was very easy. I was using a 5-quart ice cream bucket, and I filled it twice. Lezley had gone out and picked before me, and she filled a 4-quart bucket. I was very pleased with my little sister's determination and hard work!

Then I sat and snapped all those beans. Is there anything quite like the smell of fresh raw green beans, the fuzzy rough feeling of the beans snapping between your fingers, and the taste of beans in your mouth, to tell you that summer is on its way? Snapping beans always brings back so many memories for me. It's almost as good as looking through an old photo album.

Mom was out of the house, and as I snapped, a plan formed; what if I was to finish these beans before she got back? What if I was to can them all alone? The adventure attracted me...and so the challenge began. I poured over Mom's trusty Ball canning book as I finished the beans, and then headed out to the kitchen to try my hand at canning. I've watched Mom do it so many times....

I won't bore you with all the details, but I actually canned my first 4 quarts of beans! Mom got home before I had the jars in the canner, but she let me finish them. ..Except I had to run out, so she watched them while they cooked. And Dad helped me fix the canner just right before I started the jars in it, so I guess I didn't do everything. :) But it was still fun.

I also dehydrated my first herbs today. My basil plants have grown like crazy, and I picked a whole colander-full of sweet basil leaves. They filled the dehydrator to bursting. After supper, the leaves were dry and I started crumbling them into a glass jar. The pungent smell of basil hung in the air, and the leaves were sharp against my fingers.

You know what? Not only had the leaves shrunk as they dried, but they continued to decrease in volume as I crumbled them. By the time I was done, the green pile didn't even rise an entire inch above the bottom of the mason jar.

I stared at the little heap. So much work. So much fragrance. And my fingers condensed it all to this little pile. All the moisture removed; only the body of the leaves remain.

What an illustration, I thought to myself. How many people go through life piling up pleasant things, working hard for things they see as huge and important? And how much of what they pile will last through eternity? Will it crumble away? When their life is sifted through at the judgement seat, what will be left? A little pile? What will be left of my life? How much time do I spend on things that don't matter? What will be the size of my pile? When the moisture of worthless things has been dried away, what will be left?

That reminds me of something I heard at a gardening workshop at the convention. I'll leave you with this one thought from my notes:

"You plant seeds expecting to get more in return. If you planted peas and only got one or two pods back, you would be very upset. You expect a big yield; lots of peas! So why are you content with such small yield spiritually? Why is it okay to grow only a few spiritual pea pods on your plant? You would be upset if your garden plant did that poorly. Why aren't you upset about your lack of spiritual pods?"

I cannot answer this question to my own satisfaction.

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