Harvest Festival

After all its therapeutic value has been extracted, what is the use of a garden if one doesn't share its bounty? Perhaps my favorite annual celebration is our Autumn Harvest Dinner. I vacillate between calling it that and a 'Garden Party,' which is indicative of my reluctance to admit that Summer is ending. I love sharing the beauty of our little urban farm with friends at its peak. It is my unique pleasure to plan a menu around what is available at that moment in time and then serve it to appreciative friends al fresco in the same space it all was cultivated in. This year we enjoyed an especially memorable and enchanting evening with our guests. As my delightful friend Carrie, said as she enthusiastically slapped the table, " This is the best 'Farm to Table I've been to yet!" 

We work diligently on our garden all year long and we enjoy our work. The years we bring in a high yield everything seems worth it. On the occasions that things go wrong we have to dig a little deeper to harvest the meaning. Just like in life, "when you lose, don't lose the lesson." Evenings like this one are for the times that we win. What good is a victory without a celebration? On a perfect Saturday evening in early September, we gathered together a dynamic group of friends to enjoy a feast inspired by the garden plot. Gorgeous weather, lively company, an abundant atmosphere, delicious food and inventive drinks made for quite an enjoyable evening evening. I will be warming myself with memories of this celebration in the chilly winter months ahead!

Toasts are a big tradition in my family, we're Irish. My sister and I both incorporated a champagne toast into our wedding ceremonies, as eloquent as they were wry and deftly delivered by our now dearly departed father. Anyone who knew him would tell you he was something of a bard in his day. Since it had become a tableau, and because she would have insisted on it had she actually left instructions for her funeral, a toast stood in for communion at my mother's 'our gang-back-yard-funeral-production (a story for another time). I can only remember one toast and it isn't often that I ever get to deliver it. This one by another dearly departed Irishman, Ted Kennedy, "There are good ships, and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea. But the best ships are friendships, and may they always be.” 
A stalwart crew celebrated into the wee hours. I certainly felt like we had all paid our proper respects to summer by evening's end. Saying farewell to the sweet summer days is always bittersweet for me. So I do the only sensible thing I know how to do when things start feeling grim, I plan a party. Something meaningful to pull me out of an impending funk. Counting up my blessings (and my clamshells) and seeing what I can do with them to spread some cheer usually does the trick. Summertime blues have fully abated and I am wholly embracing the turning of the wheel this Autumn. 

"Harvest festival 
What was best of all was the 
Longing look you gave me 
That longing look 
More than enough to keep me fed all year " - XTC