Most evenings in the spring and summer, I’m in the garden and Matt’s shooting his bow. The radio plays classic rock in the background, and there are usually some cold ones on ice in the truck bed. Buttercup alternates dropping her ball off to us, hoping someone will give in, take a break, and play a little fetch.
Thwamp. His arrow hits the bullseye with undeniable precision and force. A perfect antonym for how I’m feeling about the garden at this very moment. Its magnitude has begun to overwhelm me. I’ve certainly given up on precision, and if anything has brute force, it’s the constant cucumber beetles, persistent suckers, and relentless weeds—not me. I sit on the truck bed just staring at it. I know what needs to be done, but I can’t find the motivation to start. I’ve been talking about cutting the rest of the artichokes and canning them for over a week now. I was so excited to try this recipe for home-canned artichoke hearts, but now it feels futile.
He must have been able to tell. He hung up his bow, grabbed the harvesting knife, and asked if we should cut the remaining artichokes. I follow, half-heartedly, half-bushel basket in hand, and we finish cutting the last one as the sun goes down. It’s just the momentum I need. I process and preserve every last one that night. And although it wasn’t easy, or fast, I feel an enormous sense of accomplishment in these 3 little jars. They represent an entire season of hard work.
Although it wasn’t always perfect, these artichokes were grown, harvested, and preserved with love. I can’t help but wonder if that’s what the author of this recipe meant when she said they were unlike any store-bought kind. I know I’ll never look at a jar of store-bought marinated artichokes the same, and I’m certain I’ll extra appreciate these home-canned artichoke hearts during the winter months. And that’s exactly why I do it. It’s about appreciating the work that goes into growing food; preparing food. Appreciating a helping hand when you need it most.
And it’s precisely why I garden. I often say it’s because of the superior taste and wide variety, and while that’s entirely true, it’s not the whole story. It’s also about the experience, both powerful and humbling. It’s a chaotic mess, but a beautiful one. And that’s exactly why I love it.