Wednesday, February 11, 2009

thresh and winnow

Remember these? Last fall I lifted the bean plants and hung them on the fence for the sun to dry the pods. These are a french-fillet or gourmet-style-bush-growing-stringless-green-bean....OK there might be a few wax beans in the bunch.

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Before the snow started to fly, I picked the pods off the plants, and stored them in a washtub in the mud room, near the wood/coal stove. As late winter turns to early spring, I decide it is time to finish the job. I pour them into a large brown grocery bag, and gently step on them with my stocking feet...I hear and feel the dry pods crunching under my toes... I need the seed for this years crop...it is time to thresh and winnow...

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Time to separate seed from chaff...

The wind carries off the chaff as I pour the contents of the basket into the sieve, and the contents of the sieve back into the basket. As I work, several beans bounce out of the basket and escape down the hillside...they slide on top of the ice until they find a crevice to hide in. What will become of them? Maybe a mouse will find something to nibble on...maybe they will be washed away with the spring rains...but maybe, just maybe..one or two of them will take root and grow. I select 4 perfect ones to throw...one to the north, south, east, and west. I throw them as far as I can. An offering.

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Time to select and sort ....

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Each beans fate is decided. Only the best...nearly perfect seeds will go back into my soil to plant in the month of June...the misshapen and odd colored...the rejected or broken bean seeds will be soaked -until they sprout- and will be served up to the chickens. And those that are left will fall into the soup pot.

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And the cycle is complete...or is it just starting again?

14 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yum, you are making me hungry for beans and cornbread. ha... If you tried pouring them back and forth today you would lose your entire crop. The wind is gusting at 30mph already this morning and it is supposed to ramp up to 50-60mph today. Batten down the hatches and tie your hat on today.

Valerie said...

What a lovely post. Makes me think of the winnowing baskets I've seen at historical re-enactment sites.

I like the idea of throwing a perfect bean to 4 points on the compass.

Stasia said...

I just love reading your blog!

How neat to make the offering to the four directions... I do that with smudge and tobacco here sometimes.

Our "goat barn" was originally a granary - people have told us that there are two doors to it because they would winnow the grain in the middle of the building while the wind blew through.

I am so anxious to have my own garden again, so that I can save seeds like I used to. I miss planting Cosmos for dyeing...

Oh how I love seeing what you are up to!

Have a beautiful day!

Tina. said...

I wanted to tell you that I enjoy reading your blog. It is always thought provoking! Keep them coming!

thecrazysheeplady said...

Love the offering. Perfect.

The Gingerbread House said...

Cyndy,I love the story about the beans, wish I was your neighbor, I'd learn a lot about planting beans...what kind of beans are they? they look like navy! I'm making a pot of beans (field peas)now and a pot of rice to go with them..and some pork chops...Ginny

elizabeth said...

Ah, that's the good thing about cycles, there's neither beginning nor end! Much like your river quote.

Love that you throw the seeds to the directions. Doesn't it feel good to throw something as hard as you can?

cyndy said...

The beans are a haricot verts variety...they are a French variety.
Haricot meaning beans and vert meaning green

They are basically thinner and longer than most of the American Varieties...they have complex flavors...and are very tender...I love them!

And yes...it does feel good to throw something as hard as I can...but beans don't go very far! There is more satisfaction to skipping rocks on the water!

Kate/Massachusetts said...

I buy bags of heirloom beans for cooking from
www.ranchogordo.com
I was on his site recently and read that any of his cooking beans could be planted for a grow-your-own. He has various heirlooms that get sold at diffent times so it is well worth checking in regularly. I love his borlotti beans! I plan to try growing some this summer just to see if it works! lol

Pat K said...

What a lovely post! Makes me feel good after a day with computers and all that technological stuff.

Sharon said...

exciting, spring is in the air for you, I hope autumn is around the corner for us, its just been (or should I say bean!) terrible here with the fires and all.... Looking forward to some good autumn planting....

Cathy said...

I, too, love tossing things to the four directions, and up and down. It's a reminder of the abundance we always have, somehow.

Dawn said...

I love that you tossed the beans out to the four winds. I'm hoping that spring will soon be showing us some signs ... it's been a long winter. Thanks for your inspiring post!

fiberjoy said...

Hehe, I heartly agree with skipping stones across water! Now there's a satisfying activity.

You're treading an ancient seamless cycle.

I still haven't gotten hold of the friend about his friend's flax field. Will keep trying!

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