Saying grace — and not — in a daily gratitude practice: Day 11

Trader Joe's oranges in winter. (Kathleen Kenna photo)

California oranges in winter. (Kathleen Kenna photo)

We admire people of faith who say grace before every meal.

Even snacks.

We admire atheists who thank Mother Earth for sharing her abundance, before they take a bite.

And environmentalists who thank the Creator — however s/he is defined — for every plant and tree.

By comparison, we seem grace-less.

We’re grateful for our daily food, having lived and traveled in places where even a mouthful of dirt was sustenance.

(In Peru, impoverished farm families eat clay with their meals, to stretch the bulk and fill their youngsters’ stomachs.)

We’re especially grateful for food, knowing what it takes to nurture it and get it to the kitchen.  (Kathleen grew up on a farm that was in her family for generations.)

But we don’t pause often to say grace.

Working on it.

One mouthful of sunshine has made us more committed to saying thanks before we eat or drink — even more than when we lived in a near water-less country (Afghanistan), where food was more precious than gemstones.

We’ve been blessed all winter to buy navel oranges at our neighborhood grocers — Trader Joe’s, there is no other chain store for us — and concluded that we are doubly blessed.

Navel oranges from California taste like sunshine in the middle of winter, especially when there’s sleet outside (or whatever frozen rain is called …  we don’t recall … it’s so uncommon here).

These fat oranges were so delicious, we’ve decided, with some shame, that we have been remiss in our gratitude.

We’re not saying thanks! enough.

Faced with soil-cracking drought for the third consecutive year, and higher prices for everything, some worker in California picked these oranges for us.  The drought is so rough, that worker might not have a job after this season.

Someone packed and loaded them onto trucks, likely, before they were shipped by rail or

flown to our little Trader Joe’s in a place called UP.

We are grateful for everyone who planted and tended the orange groves that make California so precious to all Americans.

We’re grateful to every worker who touched these oranges, from tree to our table.

Yes, we’re “foodies” and yes, we support the 100-mile diet for environmental, health, and all kinds of socio-political reasons — mostly social justice.

But we also enjoy getting our nutrients in real food, in real time, with a minimum of chemicals, especially from family or independent farms.

We’re grateful for every bite.

We’re committed to saying grace more often, in gratitude for a taste of sunshine on a wintry day.

With gratitude to the Brazilians who planted those first trees, the Spanish missionaries who carried plantings to California, and suffragette Eliza Tibbets for planting navel oranges in her backyard in Riverside.  There’s a lot of history in just one orange.

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