Monday, September 27, 2010


How often the word "bittersweet" appears in the stories I read of people's lives and experiences. After having discovered the bittersweet plant growing on our windmill the first autumn we were on our farm (2001) I decided to name my gift shop after it. Life had given us many experiences that were both bitter and sweet. Bitter being the death of my father-in-law, and the death of a niece and later a brother...Sweet being our adventures as a family...being able to visit Boston and New Hampshire in the fall (my very first plane ride!), and the daily adventures of life on the farm, kids in school, etc. So the name seemed fitting in more ways than one...

Outside the window by my cash register, I have often glimpsed shoppers gazing on the beautiful vine on our windmill. In the fall, it is covered in orange berries. Curious lovers of bittersweet come to the shop seemingly because they want to "talk bittersweet". They want to know where I get it, how I grow it, etc. As a result, since I can't take credit for my own vine, I have done some research in order to have a response to the inquiries.

It seems growing bittersweet is a bittersweet experience. For starters, you have to have one male and one female plant. Rarely do people end up with one of each; I have heard it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Then it takes a few years before you see fruit, so it is a painfully long wait for the well~loved vines. I can imagine waiting several years and not seeing any orange berries, only to discover that you wont be getting them...

In my research, I discovered there are two types of vines, those (wild ones) that spread underground and are rampant out East. The articles I have read express frustration with bittersweet choking out other plants, and people want to get rid of it *gasp*!! (I know many Midwesterners who would love to take it!!!)

As time has gone on with our little Bittersweet Farm, and all the bittersweet stories, whether in life or in plants, I've come to understand that the bitter things have a certain impact on us and they seem to make the "sweet" things, well, sweeter! (not that the bitter things don't rightfully cause us to mourn~of course they do!)

Those who have struggled to grow the vine have a reason to connect with those who have one. It brings life~connections. My life has been sweetened by the conversations with people who come in the shop. I hope they would say the same thing!

Those of us who have experienced bitter loss, setbacks, and failures can attest to the awakening of our hearts with gratitude for the "still haves" in life. When we lose a loved one, we cherish our family more. When we experience loss of wealth or home or job, we seem to find that the things we still have are the important things anyway. We look back after recovering, and find that our endurance has increased, and so has our faith.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

If you or someone you know is experincing life's bitterness as a result of loss, come along side of them, be there for them. You don't have to say anything regarding their loss, just a smile, a prayer, a phone call is all that is needed for sweetening bitter times. And a little orange vine to dress up a home in the fall is sweet too!

1 comment:

Maria I. Morgan said...

Thanks for the info on the bittersweet plant. I had no idea there was a plant with this name, although I've used the word numerous times. There's truth to your words that the bitter times make the sweet times that much sweeter! And the verse in James helps us to know that both bitter and sweet times can help us grow closer to our Lord! God bless!