Ever Bearing, Ever Lost
June 13, 2007

This morning as I returned home from walking my son to school, a strawberry-colored house finch declared his bold morning greeting from a powerline high overhead. I nipped out to the back yard to check on my ground cherry plants and was pleased to see several ripe strawberries in our garden. I couldn't resist devouring one on the spot. A strawberry eaten in season is a beautiful thing. We wait for them impatiently, like long-distance lovers eager to be reunited with the source of our bliss. We murmur to each other our longing questions, "Have you seen them yet? Have they arrived?" My heart fell last week when the berry man did not appear at the Nat Bailey Farmer's market last week. I hope he's there today.

I must admit I have been cheating and buying the organic California strawberries for two weeks now. I sprinkled them with lavender sugar and whipped up some cream with the same perfumed sugar to pile on top of the juicy berries. I even bought a jar of organic chocolate sauce to pour on top. (The strawberries deserved it.)

Just a few weeks ago I watched all kinds of bees ravaging the strawberry blossoms in our yard. Almost all our berry plants are gifts from friends and relatives, and party favors from summer birthdays. I daydream about my plans for next year: a Babylonian explosion of strawberries in hanging baskets buzzing with the happy work of bees. It's sad that the year-round strawberry has become the symbol of the seasonless supermarket. It makes me think about what we have lost.

We have lost the sense of what is seasonal. We have lost our ability to grow and preserve our own food. We have lost respect for where our food comes from and respect for the people who grow it. We have lost the daily ritual of sitting around the table for a home-cooked meal, and we've lost the weekly ritual of the extended family meal.

We have lost our humility and sense of interconnectedness with our surrounding ecosystem. We have lost our voices, and our ability to speak out against our children being used as guinea pigs for unlabelled genetically modified foods. We have lost our pride, our power to reject substandard subsidized pseudo-foods that corporations want us to put into our bodies that make us docile and weak.

We have lost the joy of choosing and shopping for our food. Every trip to the grocery store is a chore and an obstacle course we negotiate, trying to separate the foods that heal from the foods that kill. We have lost a government that cares about and protects the health of its citizens.

We have lost our connection to the sun and sky, the water and the earth. We have lost our connection to the oceans, the great forests, the prairies, and the desert. We have lost our connection to the fish, the animals and insects that sustain and inspire us. Humanity has lost its childhood, its innocence, and its freedom. Unless people start to do the work to bring it all back, to nurture life and to care for each other, we will lose it all.

So build your courage, take the risks and do the work: protect everything you can and mend the broken connections. Remember what was lost, and in remembering, plant the heritage seeds our ancestors saved and protected for us to create the future of our country and our planet. Find your community and your voice. Be honest. Be strong. We need you.

If you need any help, I'll be here in my garden with a bowl of fresh strawberries.