I have a dear friend, Katrina Kittle, who is an amazing gardener.

(She is also an incredible novelist. Find out about her books on her website. And a supremely inspiring teacher of creative writing. Find out about her classes here.)

Now, Katrina has no idea I’m writing about her for this Thanksgiving post. She might not see it. If she does, I can just see her shaking her head, and saying, “Oh, Jess!”

But anyway, she’s an amazing gardener. Flowers. Veggies. Her backyard is a veritable haven.

Now, I’m an OK gardener. I hold my own with herbs, and pots of annuals. I also don’t put in the gardening effort that Katrina does, and talent without effort doesn’t yield much of anything. Also, I don’t have the love of gardening that Katrina does. That’s also an important ingredient in creating anything–love for the creating. So, love, effort, and yes, some talent is what it takes to yield anything, in any sort of endeavor.

However, I tried. Really, Sort of. To grow tomatoes. To be fair, we have an incredibly shady yard, and tomatoes need sun. Lots of it. Which we don’t have. Also, what we do have are squirrels. Lots of those. The few green tomatoes that showed up on my tomato vines were nabbed by the squirrels. (And yes, I saw one feisty squirrel with a big green tomato in its mouth, prancing across my back yard this summer.) Next year, I’m sticking to herbs. And peppers. Somehow I managed to grow those, even with squirrels, shade, not a lot of effort, and not a huge amount of love of gardening.

Back to Katrina. She ended the summer with a bounty of tomatoes. TOO MANY TOMATOES! she told me. I could have all the tomatoes I’d like. Take them, take them, she said!

So I did. She brought a big bucket of tomatoes and left them on my front porch. I nabbed them before the danged squirrels could, and I canned the tomatoes.

I texted Katrina–could I drop off a few jars of canned tomatoes–great in stews, chilis, or cooked up as tomato soup–as a thank you?

She was thrilled. Turns out… she’s not a fan of canning tomatoes.

I had to chuckle. Such a good reminder–figure out the things you love to do. The things you do not love to do. Focus on the thngs you love to do. Be thankful and grateful for the talents you have, the ones you love enough to put effort into.

And, of course, be thankful for family, friends, community.

Stay well,