Making sauce, playing children, and the moments in between

My daughter points to the stove and the big pot simmering. “Hot” she says. The smells of tomatoes, peppers, and fresh picked herbs fill our kitchen. I’ve been chopping all morning and placing all the ingredients in the big pot. We’re making tomato sauce with much of the produce coming from our garden. This is just the beginning steps of a process that takes hours. A process that began in the dark of winter dreaming and planning our garden. And now some of the fruits of our work are in the kitchen. From dreaming, to tilling, to planting, to weeding, to watering, to harvesting, and now to cooking and canning.

A feast fit for heaven.  

The day before I picked as many tomatoes as I could find. The bowls overflowing. Always just one more tomato ready to be picked. The vibrant reds, oranges, and purple of the tomatoes drawing my eyes. The smell of fresh-picked tomatoes filling my senses bringing a smile to my face. There’s such contentment being in the garden in the evening. It feels still and calm, all the while underneath it all are growing plants, critters, and butterflies. The hum of growth all around. The hope of something growing from such small seeds. The endless possibilities. The prayers for abundance. There’s always more to do in the garden. More pruning to keep the plants healthy. More weeds to pull. More plants to water. But for this evening my one task is to harvest. To see the bounty in my midst. To marvel at such beauty and deliciousness. To be present in this one moment. I can’t help but take a bite of the cherry tomatoes, the juice dripping down my chin.

A taste of heaven.

As the chopped tomatoes, peppers and herbs are simmering we prepare the jars for canning. Everyone is in the kitchen. We’re all smelling the sauce as it thickens and simmers. We’re washing the jars. We’re reading the directions to make sure we do it just right. And all the while the kids are playing. My daughter has all her trains and tracks winding through the kitchen. She says, “choo, choo.” Her brother wants to play with the dog’s food and water bowls. He’s putting his toys, one by one, into the food bowl. I talk as I’m chopping and stirring and washing; showing them the produce that came from our garden. Hoping they see the gifts of the earth. Trusting they will someday know the beauty of growing their own food.

A picture of heaven’s bounty.

The moment seems so perfect. Calm and peaceful. And then it passes.

For in the next moment the baby takes my daughter’s toy. She grabs it back and pushes him away from her. He cries. I yell for her to give the toy back. The baby raises his arms to be picked up. He’s still crying. My daughter won’t give him the toy until the threat of going to her room. He’s still crying as I stir the sauce. His sister keeps pushing him away from her. I pick him up and show him the sauce as I stir. Once he’s calm I place him as far from his sister as I can without him being out of my sight. He goes to his favorite spot in the kitchen - the cabinet with all the plastic plates and bowls. One by one he grabs a plate and throws it on the floor. One by one the plates and bowls are scattered. Crashing to the floor. His sister comes over and tries to shut the cabinet door. I have to yell again to tell her to leave him alone. She decides to ignore me. When the door is closed he starts crying.

This, too, is a piece of my heaven.

After all the sauce has been canned I smile at the beautiful jars. The work of many hands. I think about the meals we’ll have in the months ahead and give thanks for this small abundance.

After the bedtime routine and attempts to prolong going to sleep, after meltdowns and exhaustion, the kids are both asleep. The work to get them calm takes many hands. I reflect on the day and also look forward to their smiles and hugs tomorrow. I give thanks for this small abundance.  

The day isn’t without frustration and exhaustion. Toys are still strewn on the floor. Dishes are still in the sink caked in sauce. Yet all of that falls away to the beauty and magic of the day. The magic of seeing food created from a small seed. The magic of two children living and breathing. The magic of simple moments.

Stirring sauce.

Playing children.

And all the moments in between.

Pieces of heaven in our midst.