La Faver: Eating our water bill

Our recent household water usage was higher than usual, so my husband queried experts at the water district. “Are you eating your water bill?” they asked. Now that’s something we hadn’t heard before. It means water usage usually increases when summer gardens are growing. We felt reassured.

Later, relaxing in the shade of a fruitless mulberry tree, we surveyed our Hidden Valley Lake backyard. The fruit trees generously feed us cherries, apples, and figs. We eat grapes from grapevines growing along the back fence. Our persimmons will ripen soon.

From two raised-bed gardens, we eat zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, artichokes, eggplant, strawberries, basil, parsley, garlic chives, oregano and lemon thyme. And, we’re harvesting giant sunflower and pumpkin seeds to roast.

Around a tiny lawn in our unfenced front yard, sage, rosemary and lavender plants flourish underneath three flowering fruit trees.

This is the first summer we’ve swapped vegetables over the fence with our neighbor, another gardener. Also new this year is the enjoyment my husband gets from lovingly preparing cardboard “gift baskets” for friends filled with vegetables and fruit from our yard.

Especially satisfying is consuming our own delicious food. We augment our fresh food supply by shopping at Kelseyville’s farmers’ market, an occasional trip to Hardester’s grocery store, and with home-grown beef from my dad in Natomas, near Sacramento.

Author Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, was my birthday gift from my son and daughter-in-law. Living in San Francisco, they live vicariously hearing our “crop reports” during weekly phone conversations.

Kingsolver’s book makes a passionate case for putting the kitchen back at the center of family life and diversified farms at the center of the American diet. My husband and I bless our rural life in which we can raise our own food and consume what is raised by us or people we know.

We realize the growing season is finite. Our water use will soon lessen. Meanwhile, we give thanks for the water and the harvest it provides.

Susanne La Faver lives in Hidden Valley Lake with husband, Lyle.