Prepping For Harvest (In Our Gardens and Lives)

Aug 02, 2021

Drawing by Mariah Moody

Harvesting is about more than a bounty of fresh farm produce, it is about our body, mind and soul too


How can it be August already? Can someone please tell me where the summer has gone?

And I don’t know about you, but nothing has felt normal about this summer. Maybe that’s the new ‘normal’. As I write this our beautiful Catskill Mountain skies are hazy and filled with smoke from west coast fires. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. I’m witnessing it with my own eyes. Our weather patterns have been as unpredictable as the past year for all of us…record high temperatures one day and monsoon rains the next, a very unsettled mix for sure.

Like other restaurants across the country and in tourist locales, the streets are packed, but getting workers…not so easy. Friends who have traveled the past few months tell me it’s the same in many destinations. ‘Help Wanted’ signs abound.

I’m so very grateful to say that the café has navigated these last 17 months with open doors and through many transformations.

We stayed grounded and committed, knowing we could roll with the punches and that we’d do everything in our power to stay open. There were times that didn’t feel so certain, but that in itself taught me a great deal about business, life and resiliency. The reality is that we could only do what we could do.

There were weeks where getting produce deliveries was a big unknown and moments when distributors ran out of produce or drivers to deliver. We had staff that never came back to work but others who regularly worked double shifts to make up the difference. It’s all a great metaphor for life. Sometimes the truck just doesn’t arrive and you’ve just got to improvise and do the best you can. We get to choose how we are going to show up and how we are going to react to whatever we are presented with.

Yes, my riches are served up on the café plates, but I am surrounded by them every day. The café is a beautiful community with a mission to feed palates and souls — to create connection. Now more than ever we need to nourish ourselves with quality food and thank our bodies for keeping us strong and fortified. Every person who passes through the restaurant — whether to grab a to-go or indulge in a meal — is a blessing, a part of my soulful harvest. And I am grateful that they are honoring their bodies.

When I close my eyes and think of August, I see a lush array of beautiful, freshly picked, local and organic veggies (much like I can find just around the corner on Wednesdays at our wonderful farmers’ market). I dream of sunshine-filled days and cool mountain nights with windows opened to star-filled skies. I escape to nearby streams late afternoon to dip my toes and sink below the surface, drowning out my worries below the water. Noses are sun-kissed. Cicadas are active and gardens are lush and in full glory. The fields are lined with tall cornstalks and sunflowers, the tomatoes weighed down with glorious fruit. But change is upon us. It whispers to us. We must soak up her bounty with gratitude for this moment and think about the harvest.

What can we do now to sustain ourselves in body, mind and spirit?

What is it that feeds you and that you’d like to harvest — not just on your plate, but in your life?

And what would you like to be done with and release?

Summer is always a flurry of activity around here. Yet, I have worked harder this summer than in any other filling in empty spaces and reconnecting with my own resiliency. This year the café taught me flexibility and how to stretch time. I’ve been back in the kitchen and reconnecting to every aspect of my dream with my hands in the mixing bowls and pulling hot baked goods from the ovens (I’ve got the burn marks to prove it…ouch!). 

Instead of complaining, I embraced the call and went with the flow. In doing so, my early morning baking and cooking time became sacred and ceremonial. It is an honor to create and share love through food. And when we can show up for life like this, no matter what our job, and when we treat whatever task is before us as a possibility for grace—we create an abundant harvest for ourselves.

For me, I’m harvesting more faith in myself, flexibility and ease. The harvest is upon the horizon…what’s it going to be for you?

—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


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