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Father’s Day…

LRK gleaningWhen he was in his 70s, and then for about the last ten years of his life, my father was a gleaner. Once a week, sometimes twice, he would drive north into Ventura County, to the day’s target field, and gather by hand the produce that had been missed by the mechanical reapers. For a couple of hours, just ahead of the waiting plows, a small group of gleaners would gather broccoli or beans, celery or cucumbers, corn or carrots, potatoes or onions. If the produce was less than perfect, no matter; it was fresh and would be distributed by Food Share to food banks throughout the region.

The volunteer gleaners were allowed to keep some of their pickings. On his way home, with bits of soil still clinging to his clothes, my father would distribute his harvest to a few relatives and friends: a bag of lettuce, a handful of limes, a leafy and fragrant bunch of celery.

He had always been a gleaner, my father, gathering knowledge in the far-flung fields of his interests, then sharing his wisdom, his creativity, his protective nurturing. As I think of him, often, and today, Father’s Day, it’s his generosity, his spirit of abundance, that warms my memory — his faith that there would always be more at the source, and his great pleasure in giving.

Thanks, Papa.