A Small Task

The coriander in the garden has all gone to seed.  Some years I will be so busy with things, I leave it to moulder and keel back over into the earth.  This year I noticed it, drying beside the calendula, and pulled some of the stalks.  It was difficult to pick the seeds off the dried seed heads without scattering all of them, requiring some of my precious time in the evening, when we return home, hungry, the children rambunctious, the cat yeowling and underfoot.

The milk must be strained and put away, the bulk tank and milking pail thoroughly washed, the eggs put up, and dinner isn’t cooked.  But I knew if I delayed it, the seeds would be all over the floor in the morning, so I sat down to this careful, quiet task while the soup bubbled on the stove and my children sat around me.  Rose helped, but even with careful picking they scattered across the table from being jostled by so many hands.  Clothilde crawled into my lap, scattering more.

“What is this?” Rose asks, our fingers busy.  She puts a few round seeds in her mouth.  “It tastes like Christmas.”

I also taste a few seeds, enjoying their earthy, pungent flavor.  “Sugar plums,” I remember.  “It’s one of the spices in the sugar plums we make.”

In the end they fill a pint jar with seeds – for the kitchen and for planting again.  It would be easy just to buy coriander seeds, but then the money is made from Ethan’s time away from us, working for someone else.  And there is the unseen cost of something being grown somewhere far away, processed and delivered.  If you think of it that way, really is a small task to harvest what is freely offered.

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