There is a picture that hangs in my kitchen with a painting of a small farm. Around the border of the picture, there is a quote by Charlotte Bronte:” If we had no winter, Spring would not be so pleasant.” I don’t know that I have realized the truth of this statement more than I have this year. While Fall and Winter will always be my favorite months, I have honestly appreciated the early part of my garden season this year. I have thrilled in planting my seeds and picking the weeds far more than ever before. Perhaps it’s because this year isn’t an experiment, I know what will grow in my neat plots. Perhaps it’s because I am anxious to fill up my freezer with goodies to enjoy on a drab evening in January. Perhaps, it’s because I have someone else to enjoy dinner at the table this year.
Every night, I put dinner on the table and Liam in his high chair. While Matt gets Liam his bib and a spoon, I walk out to the deck and pick a salad. I love sniping the tender leaves of kale and the sweet bib lettuce from their respective boxes. As I pull up each delicate head of lettuce, I shake off the dirt and the memory of a friend horrified by the realization that lettuce grows in the dirt. A quick rinse washes away the soil, but not the insult of that dinner guest, who after realizing that lettuce doesn’t just grow in neat rows, encased in cellophane, refused the salad.
Tonight, I made a quick potato, goat cheese and chive frittata. Liam couldn’t eat it fast enough. As he grabbed handfuls from my plate, I settled in with my kale. Matt doesn’t really appreciate my love for this green, so I only plant one box at a time. There’s something special about homegrown kale. The seeds I planted yield a sweet, tender leaf that’s more open and flat than what I buy in the produce section. I wonder if Liam will like it. He might. I craved it so strongly for the first 3 months of his pregnancy, I had a dream that he was born green. He wasn’t. As my little family sat around the table, I realized again that I have the awesome opportunity to teach my children about good food choices. I have a friend (the same one who was repulsed by my lettuce) who thinks that family dinners lead to eating disorders and pressure to clean your plate. I don’t agree.
I love to sit down to the table at the end of that day with my little family. Our table sat in my great grandmother’s kitchen for years, moving only when my great grandfather gave it to me, 13 years ago. We have napkins, lemonade and a glowing candle. Matt and I talk about our days; me stopping the conversation to mention that Liam’s tooth finally came in today. It makes a total of 8. All the more to chew with! I wonder out loud when he will be interested in salad. Liam interjects with a loud babbled declaration and we determine to take a walk after the dishes are cleared. I realize that it’s grocery week and I need to do a menu. I ask Liam if there’s anything he’d like to eat. He points to the empty plate and I go get him more frittata. His mouth full, he babbles happily and then gives me a cheesy grin.