Gleaning — a word that evokes images of fields ripe unto harvest, Talmudic law, feeding the poor, intellectual dumpster diving and a great word for how it is we find what we need to sustain us. I’ve been a gleaner of ideas almost my whole life, never more so than now. I am a gleaner of words.

I saw a guy in Las Vegas who scoured city-provided trash receptacles along the Strip for the mega-ounce grain alcohol, fruit, sugar and ice drinks that come in huge souvenir plastic containers. He gleaned a real score: a more than half-full hundred-ounce container. Judging from his reptilian roar of pleasure after turning up his head and downing a big slug, there must have been a lot of booze in the bottom. Gleaning is a prettier word for this than scavenging.

I’m glad to know gleaning is alive and well out in the bounteous food bowl of California, where volunteers gather to glean the fields after ht harvest and fill up the food banks with lettuce, tomatoes, artichokes and other beautiful food. Urban community gardens have brought gleaning for food to the cities and the suburbs, a lovely sharing.

We’re all a mosaic of bits and pieces we have borrowed from others. Bits of dark; bits of light; reflective bits that help us see the whole.