Today I went with friends to pick plums for free in a neglected orchard. We all got enough to dry and make into plum jam or plum butter (yum!). I was reminded again of the abundance of nature. One plum seed grew into a large tree with hundreds of plums, which could seed a whole orchard, and from which thousands of plums could be harvested! I’ll give some away, dry some, can some plum butter for winter breakfasts and Christmas gifts, and just enjoy eating them fresh.
But those plums didn’t just grow without help. The original farmer had to plant the seed, nurture the seedling, then the young tree, prune it, prevent pests, and finally harvest them properly before fruit meets taste buds. The same is true of any project or job we undertake. We had a saying in education about managing student behavior: Get what you want before you give the student what they want. Well, life demands the same: we have to sow and cultivate before we reap the harvest.
I get a lot of joy from my adult children and teenage grandchildren, but there was a price to be paid: hundreds, probably thousands of diapers; late night feedings; whining in stores; and endless meals and snacks. Sure they were fun as children, but they also created what sometimes seemed like thankless work.
I’m currently working on converting my booklet on managing children’s behavior into an ebook. Since it was originally typed on a word processor, I have to retype it, study the Kindle formatting guidelines, and find a cover designer. Then I’ll still have to promote it online and hope it sells – weeks to produce and months til we have a harvest. It’s a bigger project to find a publisher for my phonics readers, written in the 1980s and distributed only minimally since phonics weren’t in vogue then.
We can have a harvest in our characters as well. Quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Sow a thought and you reap an action;
Sow an act and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit and you reap a character;
Sow a character and you reap a destiny.
As I look at my pantry with jars of soup, jam, and chicken broth and remind myself that the harvest is coming on my current projects. I believe there’s a harvest for my writing that will benefit both reader and author, and make the effort worthwhile. I can look for opportunities to say the kind word, not the nasty one, and hope for a better character. And I believe those plums will soon be nestled in jars and bags waiting to delight my taste buds this winter. Then I take heart for another day of cultivating my personal garden.
Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap;
therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward.
(LDS Doctrine & Covenants 6:33)
Book Review: When my kids were little, I came across a delightful book that I think I enjoyed even more than they did: The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss. It’s about a little boy who plants a carrot seed, and his whole family tells him that “it won’t come up.” But the little boy continues to care for his seed anyway, believing that it will. All you gardeners out there know that carrot seeds are tiny and notoriously slow to germinate. Even though it’s very short, The Carrot Seed packs a real punch, especially if you’re down and don’t feel like the projects you’re nurturing will ever bear fruit!