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Cultures around the world give thanks at harvest for good crops, and I’m especially thankful at the start of autumn for abundance.

Grateful for Napa Valley grapes at harvest. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Traveling the West Coast this past week, we’ve seen great fields of artichokes, broccoli, cabbages and cauliflower in California, and we’ve been thankful for all the workers picking and hauling produce in the heat.

Strawberries, raspberries and cherry tomatoes are still plentiful in this state. And in wine country, the first crush for Chardonnay fills the air with a heady scent. It’s a natural perfume unlike any other.

We always marvel at the orange, lime and lemon trees along the California coast, because we don’t have citrus groves in our region. Growers are stuffing roadside stands with cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and watermelon. There are pink-fleshed watermelons and yellow watermelons, fat as beach balls.

Trucks along I-5 are filled to the brim with plum tomatoes, their skins glistening in the sun. This is such a wonder, we cheered out loud every time we passed one of these double-trailer trucks, grateful for all the labor it took to produce and deliver tomatoes to America’s tables.

The fields are dusty, and farmers were wheeling combines around golden fields of grain, leaving straw for the balers. We sniffed the air for hints of some unfamiliar crops being harvested, then had to rely on roadside signs for clues: fava beans, prickly pear cactus.

God bless California for its abundance: Fruit and vegetable stands stand proudly next to fast food joints all along the highway. It’s such a sign of good health, next to America’s excesses.

Workers were bent low clearing red, romaine and iceburg lettuce in fields so colorful and even, they looked like giant quilts spread across the land.

Palm trees were bending in the wind in some places, next to vast orchards of pistachios, almonds, and pears. Huge trailers from Live Oak Farms were filled to the brim with Granny Smith apples, headed north.

While we’ve been lamenting the drought across so much of America, we were amazed by the irrigation network in California, with giant aquaducts stretching across the fields for miles and miles.

We watched beekeepers removing honeycomb from the hives, and were mindful of struggling farmers and ranchers across the country.

Amid such West Coast bounty, it’s truly a season for giving thanks for abundance.

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