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  • Writer's pictureEllen Harris

Looking Back and Stepping Forward in Gratitude

Someone once told me I was all over the place and that I needed to focus. That was over 20 years ago. Someone else once told me I tried to fill up every minute of the day and asked why. That was over 9 years ago. As I approach my next rotation around the sun, I’m still all over the place. It’s in my nature. Its what’s afforded me a life full of opportunities, experiences, challenges and triumphs.

I never actually tried to fill up every minute of the day. However, my efforts towards doing as much as I can, coupled with resting when I must, is purposeful. The path I chose these last few months was well traveled. I worked, tended to my garden, visited with friends, rested, and played. Since July, I stepped away from blogging after creating and holding the Delta Roots Festival 2022 in June. I’m back and the pictures below highlight special moments.

My garden was in full bloom in August. Okra flowers always make me smile and this summer I even tried my hand at growing sunflowers with a little bit of success. I, also, grew sweet potatoes and butternut squash successfully for the first time and they were delicious. A drive to the Tuskegee, AL area to visit my friend, Sonjia, was a treasure. We saw the church she grew up in, a historical cemetery, and renovated student housing on the Tuskegee University campus that she and her husband sponsored.

In September, Emi and I walked our little road and neighborhood. My barber, Rod, connected me with a local muralist, Tee, who started a mural on the back side of my house. She brought a friend the first day because he wanted to observe, learn, and help. He slowed her down and she nicely released herself from teaching mode. Because Tee is a truckdriver she had to get back on the road before finishing the mural. I didn’t mind. Her time away gave me time to visit an old friend. The beauty of working remotely is that you can be anywhere. I packed my laptop and suitcase and headed to Trinidad, where I hadn’t been in almost 40 years!

Tee returned in early October and finished the mural. It represents the spirit of my place; its three blessings, the garden and vegetables I grow. I love it. Later in the month, I mixed work and play. I got to visit with some folks doing amazing community work in Baltimore, but that’s another story for another time. But best of all I got to visit with friends I first met at USDA over 32 years ago. We hadn’t seen each other in over 7 years and our time together was a joy. Another friend came back to MS with me, and we worked the whole weekend, including hanging solar lights over the garden and adding a storm door to my house. We both got to rest for a minute and the lights at night look fantastic! Thanks to Ty, someone who helps me in MS and who I may turn into a gardener one day, my garden continued to flourish while I was away. And by the end of the month, I planted some collards and cabbage.

November is close to ending. Most times have been brisk, fall days. The collards and cabbage are growing nicely, even when wrapped after a dip in the temperature and had to be covered. The grounds and the rocks brought back from Trinidad and balanced on my ancestors’ seat look great. I boiled, mashed and bagged up the last of my sweet potatoes for bread and casseroles later on. Emi and I have taken occasional walks down to the river. The sand we walked on is usually under water, but right now the river is lower than it’s been in years.

These last three pictures were just too beautiful not to capture. Driving home one day last week after a day of farm visits for work, I took the first two. I stopped on my little road to take this last one. For all, I had to catch myself, look around on the ground for critters, and get back in the car quickly because I am in MS after all! Peace y'all.

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