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“Doing Beans”

July 19, 2005

Standing over the sink last night, I was “doing beans.” Josh and I had harvested many vegetables from our garden on Saturday: lettuce, radishes, onions, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, sweet corn, squash, and beans. We had a lot of beans, which meant it was time to “do beans,” which is Ayers-speak for freezing them.

I have countless memories of “doing beans” and “doing corn” with my family and grandparents. It was often several days of work to stock up the freezer for winter. I perfected the art of reading books while snapping beans (it truly can be done). I love gardens: the planting, weeding, and harvesting. We only spent about thirty dollars in seeds to buy everything and the return is so much more than one puts into it. We haven’t bought lettuce in months and last night feasted on sweet corn, not too mention that the veggies put away for the winter taste almost as good as those eaten in the summer.

I snapped the beans then blanched them before cooling them in a sink of cold water. After they cooled I bagged them into zip-lock bags and stuck them into the freezer for later consumption. One can feel humbly proud of a garden and it’s harvest. Humble because a gardener and a farmer know that all their effort is in vain if nature doesn’t cooperate. Not too much sun, not too much rain. No groundhogs stealing the veggies when you’re not looking, no bugs eating away at the leaves. It’s really not completely in the gardener’s control. The gardener can’t take all the credit.

No wonder our spiritual life is so often discribed in terms of the growing of green things. Matthew 13 describes the various conditions of our hearts as soil. The good soil bears good fruit. How can we prepare our soil to be “good” so that it is ready to receive the seeds and bear fruit? We can fertilize our life with prayer and God’s Word. Then, when the rains come from heaven, our prepared soil can respond by bearing fruit, nourished by the fresh living water. But the farther along our fruit develops, the more we have to be on guard against those things that would steal the fruit. Sin within and without seeks to harm the delicate fruit. But the final harvest will be the real test to the quality of fruit we’ve produced.

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
-Matthew 13:23

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2005 12:32 pm

    You have that much garden space where you live? Or do you mean you planted at your parents’ house? Either way, I’m impressed.

    I remember “doing beans” with my mom. She wanted every bean to be snapped uniformly–both ends off, each piece about an inch long. I could let my mind drift a little, but not too much with all that conentration. Beans are a lot of work, but we had several pairs of hands on board, and we talked up a storm snapping them. My parents sold their farm last year. I miss working alongside my dad. I think he misses it, too. He still wears a pith helmet in the sun, though!

  2. July 21, 2005 10:51 am

    The garden’s at my parents’ because you’re right, I don’t have that much space where I live. An apartment only has window sil space! I don’t snap my beans uniformly though, your mom must have had great patience!

  3. July 21, 2005 12:21 pm

    I am truly amazed Danielle. My gardening never seems to come out as beautiful and tranquil as you write it! I am currently wondering if I am the first person to really be able to kill a cactus. One of my kids gave it to me because they know that every other plant I tried to grow ended up dying after a month!

    I’ll try not to relate my gardening failures to closely to my spiritual walk…or it could get a little scary! But I’m glad I can live vicariously through you “doing beans.”

  4. July 21, 2005 3:41 pm

    We always said “put up”; “put up tomatoes”, “put up beans”, etc. This applied to freezing and canning. I think I like “doing” better because as a girl, I wasn’t too keen on putting up with “putting things up”. Danielle was sweet enough to give me the recipe and fixins for pickles last year. I’m happy to report we’ve yielded 1 cuke so far for pickling and one on the way with 2 blooms as well! Last year it was too wet. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  5. July 21, 2005 4:35 pm

    Well, if you need more cukes, let me know! It’s not like we don’t have a ton!

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