On Monday, I went out to our South Rome Community Garden beds to see if there was anything left to harvest before the first potential frost hit.

I hadn’t stopped by for several weeks, knowing that most of the stuff had petered out and I didn’t have the time to focus on cleaning it up and considering fall crops. When I get to that point, when I have harvested and eaten and harvested and preserved and harvested and forgotten, I am generally just over it.

It becomes easy for me to get distracted with other stuff, even with the best of intentions.

We started the season with time on our hands and ambition in our hearts for all the things we would do with it. The glitch in our usual schedules was a curse, but it was easy to figure out how to make it a blessing in those early days.

We planted, we baked, we canned, and we believed that we were getting back to our roots, that we were reliving the way things used to be.

Honestly, I’ve been enjoying playing at getting back to my roots for years, hence my healthy collection of canning jars that were waiting to be filled again. I have truly relished the extra time I had to pursue the dream this year, even if it was under less than ideal circumstances.

But, things have gotten busy again and, even though things aren’t totally back to normal, they are back to busy enough to stay distracted. And so, my garden lingered, all on its lonesome.

When I stopped by on Monday, I didn’t expect to find much other than the guilt of abandonment. I took a round plastic tub with water in the bottom to cut stalks of basil that I knew I’d find, along with a couple of harvesting baskets.

We had nearly reached freezing the night before, and even though it was well into mid-morning after my radio show with Randy, it was still cold and crisp and dewy when I arrived. It felt good to be alive, I must say.

As I started lifting the branches of the pepper plants and eggplants, I found that the garden had, in fact, been busy while waiting for me. I picked and I picked, finding all kinds of peppers, beautiful long Japanese eggplants, even a few handfuls of tomatoes that I thought were long ago done.

And the basil! We had planted several different kinds and I had to go back with a second tub in order to salvage it all. As I lugged home the spoils, spilling from their containers, I knew that I would have my work cut out for me, and it has been honestly hard to fit it into an already busy week.

But, the most exciting part for me was knowing that I had a literal cornucopia of different things to work with and all without even trying.

I could pickle some peppers and turn others into hot sauce and stuff some and freeze some. I could make multiple kinds of pesto to freeze and make herb vinegars and make chow chow. The possibilities were endless and that alone was thrilling to consider.

If we are feeling down on life, we might find that an embarrassment of riches awaits if we just open our eyes to the possibility.

As we have struggled through this monumental election season, I have been fascinated to consider how many different perspectives there are in our country that are being very awkwardly, and dare I say poorly, represented by two opposing political party theories.

(Remember that is all it is, theories about the best way to run a government that we have been testing out for all of history.)

In the end, we sit on the edge of our seats and watch as those two sides battle neck and neck, tugging at the proverbial rope mere inches away from each other.

But as it all unfolds, we allow ourselves to learn to hate the “others,” feeling so attached to the side that so barely contains the facets of our world view that we cannot imagine there being room for the ones who might destroy our sand castle.

We cling to what we hope is truth and are so exhausted from the exertion that we blow up at our neighbors and wish they’d just go away. Heck, I’ve even seen people wish for worse.

Why do we let them turn us against each other? The truth is that our problems and ideals are far too complicated to be solved by one-size-fits-all solutions. The truth is that we need the complexity of different perspectives to finesse the kinds of results to provide for the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for which we all are hoping.

As the dust settles and we shift into this next cycle of governance, let’s all take a deep breath, apologize to our neighbors and get to know someone who thinks differently than us. You never know what you might learn, because it takes all kinds to make the world an interesting and bountiful place.

Monica Sheppard is a freelance graphic designer, beekeeper, mother and community supporter living in Rome.

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