This weekend, we harvested a large bowl of produce from the garden. Something about a week of rain must have signaled to our plants that it was fruiting time. We picked over a hundred cherry tomatoes, seventeen shiny ripe red peppers, and several perfectly-sized cucumbers.
I brought the produce inside and prepared some of it to have with supper on Saturday night. But there was so much of it, I wondered what on earth I would do with it all.
It was then that I decided we should do some Saturday afternoon visiting.
I decorated some small paper bags with a simple note and some ribbon and put a few peppers and about twenty tomatoes into each. The note said, "We just thought we'd share with you. -Your neighbors, the Kelly Family."
Then I called the children.
I told them about the packages I had made and asked them if they'd like to help me share them. Each child chose a neighbor, and we made our deliveries. It was fun to spend a few minutes talking with each friend we saw. One neighbor was happy because his tomato plants had succumbed to blight a few weeks earlier. Another neighbor was thrilled because there had been no peppers or tomatoes at the farmer's market that morning. And another came out to the porch to talk gardening with us while the children took turns jumping off her porch steps.
It was good visiting time.
And when we returned home, there was just enough produce left for our own family. On Sunday, I processed the tomatoes and diced the peppers to make a large pot of chili -- the perfect meal for a chilly Fall night.
Then yesterday, our sharing Saturday was returned in spades. The friend whose tomato plants had withered dropped by, bringing treats for the children. When I got the mail, another friend had fashioned a home-made card decorated with pepper and tomato shapes and a lovely note. Later in the day, the telephone rang. "Do you eat fish?" came the voice of our neighbor across the street. Just back from a fishing trip, he had cleaned and filleted enough bluegill for his family and ours to have a fish fry.
At the end of the day, I though just how lucky we are to live among such good people. All it took was a little effort, a small act of sharing, to renew our connections. That's when I realized that our garden had grown not just vegetables, but friends.