There’s a very precious memory from my childhood that always comes to my mind during this time of the year – the one of fruit and vegetable picking, in my grandparents’ village.
It was a time when we did not go to the supermarkets to buy everything – even an apple or some carrots for the soup. My grandparents, authentic peasants from one generation to another, used to grow what they needed for meals – from vegetables to fruits, also birds and animals. The whole family worked in the household, shared the responsibilities, helped each other. When there was much to do, families in the village also helped one another. There was – I don’t know if this is the correct term to describe, but something like that – a kind of a consciousness of being together and doing things together, helping each other. People didn’t question whether they should help – they simply did that, instinctively, naturally. Good together – from all points of view.
In the evenings, after a day of hard work, the family was reunited around the evening meal. Like working together, this was also a ritual – of bringing family together, to share what they did during the day, answer questions if necessary, enjoy the food together. In many villages, they didn’t even have electricity, and dinner was taken at a gas lamp, on a small handmade wooden table, using handmade pottery – yet people were smiling, happy and grateful for the day, for the food, for being together. I remember my grandma cooking a big polenta at the end of the day, and we all sharing it – with homemade cheese, milk from our sheep, eggs from our chickens, homemade jam. When we, the kids grown up “in the city”, felt like we didn’t like something, my grandpa used to say – “Smells like something that it is” – a wise phrase, reminding us that we have food to eat and should be grateful – because others, a lot, are not that lucky.
We ate dinner early in the evening and went to bed early – so that family can get up first time in the morning and get to work (It’s one of the things expensive personal development books and classes are trying to teach us today – isn’t it ironic?)
After months of hard work, fruits and vegetable picking, during the autumn, was both an effort and a huge joy. I will always remember my grandparents’ house basement – apples on shelves, to be kept all over the winter, carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic woven into ropes, jars and bottles with homemade jams, syrup, pickled tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, beets, tomato pasta, beans, sweet, yellow pumpkin. Grapes for homemade wine. “Zacusca” – a traditional mix made of baked eggplants and peppers.
Autumn picking was not only about getting food together. It was about teaching us to work responsibly, to prepare food supplies for the winter season, when you could not find fruits and vegetables. On modern age, is also an excellent lesson about eating healthy, products raised without chemicals, in family households or farms – again, no need for books and classes and doctors to teach you this, just a healthy coming back to the roots:)
And it was also about sharing, again – this time the joy, after the work was shared for so many months.
On this Easter, the second one spent during this so special times that we are living, I’ve read a very special book, written by Pope Francis. It was written exactly for the times that we are living now and it’s called “Let us dream” – I strongly recommend it. And one of the messages is this one – that now, more than ever, we should get back to our roots, to simplicity, to helping and to giving.
I remember another thing from my grandparents’ village – when someone ran out of something, flour for example, you did not go straight to the market – that was not actually possible, because the closest market was some kilometers away and people did not own personal cars:) So you just asked your neighbor if he had some, you either borrowed or gave something in return or simply got that from someone who was happy and willing to help.
We still keep my grandparents’ house, and somehow we still share – us, here, holding our souls together with them, our beloveds who are now keeping their wings on our hearts, from above. My family is still growing fruits and vegetables – even if my parents live in town. They are still doing homemade preserves – the basement of the childhood house is still full with wonders, good natural food and huge love. We live 2.500 kilometers away and my parents are still sending them to us – packages with tasty natural food, memories, hugs and love. We share them here with the people we love – not because we don’t have, you know, there are not kilometers to the market and we have cars and money and lot of “missing in hearts” – we share them because we were taught like this – to share when you have something “good”, to share joy, to say “you matter” by giving not from what you don’t need anymore but from what’s the best that you have.
I think these so atypical times are also a good time for understanding things and learning lessons – for those who truly want to. And these are some of them – that good things are done together, that the real joy is only the one shared with the people you love, that we don’t need much, but we need heart, that you don’t have to move mountains to show that you care, it’s enough to do small things with great love, that helping and loving and caring are building far more bridges than any amount of money could ever do. That simple is beautiful and enough, that no brand and no coverage of any kind can buy hearts, that deep inside we should all keep a part of our inner child with the pure joy and faith that comes with it.
Roots will be always a shore to turn to and to begin from, as many times as necessary.
Sharing is always caring.
Moments, not things, are priceless.
Simplicity is absolutely charming.
Allowing yourself to give is a blessing.
Through people that HE puts in our lives, God always shows us how much he loves us.
When was the last time you were out there, picking hearts?