Hearts with Nature
By S. Georgia Kitt
Mary Caroline Marchal is another of the current SC gardeners who has played in the dirt all her life. Growing up in Sidney, Ohio, her family always had a big garden and enjoyed the climbing and picking of cherries and peaches from the backyard fruit trees. When S. Mary Caroline first had an apartment with a yard she began to put something in the ground – first, always a variety of flowers and tomatoes. While living in a more southern climate she learned to grow okra and kale from those native to the area. A favorite recipe when eggplant comes in is ratatouille; when good food abounds she likes cooking a big pot of kale, potatoes and sausage. A favored crop is anything that does not require a pesticide. S. Mary Caroline discusses her passion below:
We’ve all heard the question, “Do you eat to live or live to eat?” I can resoundingly answer that I live to eat! I love my food and everything about it. I think that it began as a child when we always had a garden and spent days canning cherries, peaches, tomatoes, green beans, and just about anything else that came into our kitchen. My mother was a great cook and I always felt like we were feasting all year long.
Little did I know that my mother was tired of cooking when she challenged my brother and me to come up with the menus as the school year ended; we eventually took over the cooking for the summer time. It was always fun and she guided us when we were unsure. I still enjoy the act of cooking! Actually, it should be the art of cooking for me since I delight in the attractive dish and healthy choices.
As an adult I’ve seldom longed for the hot days in the kitchen canning peaches but I do still love all the fresh produce that can surprise me from a tiny plot of ground in the backyard.
It’s fun trying new things; I discovered, after 19 years in Louisville, that I really like kale and okra, and they are so easy to grow. When the eggplant and garden peppers start producing I pull out the cookbooks and check the websites to see how these gifts can be combined to make something delicious and nutritious.
Eating fresh and cooking slow is back in fashion again. For me, I don’t think it ever went out of style. I love the opportunities good food, garden-grown, provides to share with neighbors and friends. My current neighbors love the kale and it is always too plentiful for just me, yet perfect for their supper as well.
There are so many stories in the Gospels where Jesus and his friends shared a meal. Food both nourishes and delights us; that delight can deepen when we’ve grown it ourselves and shared it. Why not celebrate something that we cannot do without? And, yes, in summer God definitely nourishes us through the rewards of our tending and toiling, from field to table.