Recently, when my family was in Mexico, we attended a cooking demonstration that ended with everyone sitting at a long table to enjoy the fruits of the chef’s labour. We were seated beside a lovely couple. We started chatting a little, and they shared that they had lived in Montreal for years but recently decided to move an hour north to enjoy some wide-open space.
What I didn’t expect was the wellspring of abundance these complete strangers have offered me since; I’m still awestruck by their generosity and kindness. Let me explain.
I don’t know if it was the look on my face or my vibes of excitement when they told me about how they moved to the country to live off the land, but there’s something that captivates me every time I hear these kinds of stories. I’ve fantasized about livin’ off the land myself; growing my own vegetables, having my own chickens and I don’t know – goats – so I can sell their milk to a cheese maker, and then they’d sell it back to me as the smoothest and most divinely tangy chevre that I’d savour… with fresh-baked bread in the bounty of my great outdoors. A girl can dream, can’t she? I’ve always been a city girl but this is my not-so-secret fantasy. There’s something so pure about it – isn’t there? You’re not at the mercy of the grocery store, you’re growing jewel-like produce with your own bare hands – I mean, seriously! What’s not to love about that?
I mentioned to this couple, Pierre and Donna, that we started a square-foot vegetable garden two years ago and it has been such a rewarding project for our family. There are few things more amazing than growing a perfectly ripe tomato, biting into its deliciousness and savouring all its glory. I ran into Donna later that day and she said, “You know, if you have questions about your garden, you can always ask Pierre – we’ve been growing our own vegetables for 30 years and he’s found a lot of great techniques and different heirloom varieties to grow.” I was grateful for her offer and later ran into Pierre and said I might take them up on that. He said they’d be at the pool the next afternoon and to stop by if I have questions.
So I did. And they were so great! They spent close to an hour with me, telling me all about where to buy seeds (like Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange), how to save your own and they even offered to send me some the saved from their garden. I had been buying seeds at some of the big box stores and they were pretty mainstream varieties but Pierre and Donna told me about different heirloom kinds that apparently taste heavenly. Tomatoes like Sun Gold, Blushing Bison, Green Grape and Fargo Yellow Pear – all precious in their offerings. Gorgeous fruit like Sunberries and Aunt Molly ground cherries; Italian black eggplants called Prosperosa; Perpetual ‘spinach’ that produce all summer long; Desi summer squash and Holland white cucumbers, which are the best-tasting cucumbers Pierre has ever grown. They shared highlights of all this stuff along with their email address so they could write me in more detail.
A few days after we returned home I wrote to them and guess what happened? They wrote back! They shared all these varieties with me in a long-form email along with instructions. And, after I shared my mailing address with them, they even mailed me seeds they saved from last year’s harvest, along with their 2017 garden plan and guidance on how to approach things in my gardening zone.
I’m so blown away by their kindness and generosity. I was sharing this with my husband last night and he said, “You know Tanya, there’s a lot of goodness out there in this world.” I know it’s true but I’m just so amazed that in their busy lives (they both teach at Universities and he’s an inspector for the province of Quebec), they made the time to send me all this amazing information in the form of an email and seeds in the mail. My husband also reminded me of something I had forgotten: “Didn’t you share many of the vegetables we grew in our garden last year with neighbours, work colleagues and friends?” I suppose he was right, but I didn’t think much of it. “You’re doing the same sort of things for others and once you figure out how to save your own seeds, I know you’ll do that sort of thing for others too.” It’s about perpetually paying it forward.
It’s so symbolic that we’re talking about sowing seeds. It reminded me of the parable of the mustard seed – the smallest seed in the world but at night, when the farmer slept, it sprouted into the biggest plant of all. Just like the power of kindness, generosity and goodness.
My challenge to you (and me!) this week is to share your gifts with someone else – maybe even a complete stranger. You have the power to start a tidal wave of love and kindness.
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