The wondrous smells of rhubarb pie, snap peas from the garden, and fresh dirt take me back to my childhood. My fondest childhood memories center on my grandparents and their garden. I would stay with them during summer vacation and have a magical time exploring their acre and a half full of 32 fruit trees, every type of berry bush you can imagine, an amazing array or roses, dahlias, Edelweiss and a huge vegetable garden. The rows were separated by plywood planks and I remember skipping along the carefully divided rows, day dreaming among the squash, rhubarb, carrots, radishes and snap peas. I would pretend it was my garden as I snacked away on the string beans and raspberries.
Ever since I have always had some sort of a garden. One year in my twenties I rented a home with friends that already had a big plot dug out for a garden. Determined to relive delicious memories I planted 12 tomato plants. I learned two things that summer; tomatoes are best eaten right off the vine and you can always freeze what you can’t use.
Today our backyard garden is a postage stamp and quite trampled by our new puppy and his friends. But the joy my children get from picking tomatoes and rosemary, keeps reminding me…one day I will have a big garden and until then the little bit we have growing is worth the time and effort. The other night I sautéed yellow zucchini from our garden in butter and garlic and my kids thought I was a genius.
An avid gardener lives down the street and has given me different plantings over the last eleven years. This spring she gave me some starts from Love and A Mist. She fell in love with the name before she even got to know the delicate white flowers. She instructed me to soak them with lots of water those first few days in their new ground. I dutifully followed her instructions. Now with a hot summer the sweet flowers are barely noticeable in the garden but I know next spring I will see them again. Doubled in size. Another neighbor friend gave me some Lamb’s Ear this spring. Their soft petals make it clear how they got their name. They are fading fast in the summer heat, but I know that they too will be back next year.
Tending a garden is much like parenting. Many lessons to be learned along the way, many tricks shared by friends helps us get through. Having a garden teaches me to live in the moment. The blooms only last for so long. The fruit is only ready when it’s ready. Since I can’t freeze the good times or the bad times with my kids I will just have to continue to learn how to walk barefoot in the dirt, like I did as a child back in my grandparent’s garden.