The Fall harvest at the PDX Farmers Market. Taylor Smith

The words Fall and harvest are like two peas in a pod – or maybe two acorn squash on a vine.

It’s the time of year when we find barrels of apples in our local grocery stores, when we don’t mind having sugar dusted beards after sharing a bag of cider doughnuts, when we put on our boots and squish through the mud of the pumpkin patch to find the perfect, orange orbs to carve (or if you’re like me, I take the warty, bumpy, crooked pumpkins before any round, smooth any time).

On the tables of our farmers markets spill all kinds of produce and today, when I was walking through the Wednesday farmers market in downtown, the word harvest popped into my mind with every vegetable stand I passed.

Being a “word person” -yes, that’s me!- the word harvest lingered in my mind just long enough for me to realize why I love the word so much.

No, it’s not because it has two hard sounds that you have to speak with force and intention, or the fact that it includes a smaller word that’s one of my favorite articles of clothing (yeah, that would be a pretty stupid reason).

I love the word harvest because it means the act of gathering.
To harvest something means you must put a conscious effort into collecting whatever has been carefully grown and nurtured.

Hmm … kinda reminds me of the family table.

While we may put the bounty of the Fall harvest on out tables, comprised of dishes such as roasted butternut squash soup, celery root and pear puree or sticky, gooey caramel apples, the real harvest is the act of coming to the table.

We harvest strong relationships when we gather together to eat. You might be able to sit at the table, night after night, wolfing down your food and not bothering to be part of any discussion, but that would be the opposite of “conscious gathering,” in my opinion.

When we choose to come together around the family table, recognizing how we can grow and foster relationships through the communion we share through food, I think we reap a more wonderful harvest than any field or farmers market could ever show.

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