The rain finally stopped. It stopped for a while anyway, and when it did we took advantage of it. The time to get the garden going slowly found us. I have documented the garden here on the blog before, but never at this stage. This year I caught it in the beginning. The garden brings back fond memories for me. This time of year was one of my very favorites when I was young. The garden has always been a big part of my parent's lives. They grew up in a day and age when the garden was an absolute necessity. They lived off of its bounties and stored what they needed for the year. I still believe that the garden is a necessity. There are so many lessons to be learned here in the soil, and lucky for me my parents are still here to continue teaching us all about the garden.
The beginning stages of the garden was always my very favorite while growing up. It meant that I spent a whole day with my parents in the carefully prepared soil helping them to plant. The rows were always so straight and the dirt was so soft between my bare toes, and back then it seemed like we were out there for hours together basking in the sun. I remember having two jobs while planting in the garden. First up was the tomatoes. Dad dug the holes for the plants and mom cautiously removed them from their cups to place them in. My job was to go along side of them and pour water in the holes as they moved down the row. I loved this job. My dad would always fill up the green five gallon bucket full of water from the spicket in the barn and I used an old measuring cup to get just the right amount of water into the holes. I remember reaching my arm in deep because the cool water felt so good against my skin. It was the perfect offset to the rough, moist dirt under my feet. It took some time to put the tomatoes in since my mom always planted several rows to ensure there would be enough to make salsa and to can whole tomatoes for later in the year, but I loved every minute of it.
My second job during the planting season that my parents always stressed was so important was throwing the corn seeds. My dad would gently pull the dirt back with the hoe while my mom carried the pre-soaked seeds in a bowl and my job was to throw 3-4 seeds into each hole. This was a much faster job than planting tomatoes. My parents had a rhythm to the corn planting. It was quick and efficient. I used to think that this was an important part of the process, but as I got older I realized that the reason it went so quickly was because stooping to create the holes was painful for my dad. It hurt his back to hunch over the long stretched out row and therefore he preferred that pain be over quickly.
My dad doesn't visit the garden much anymore. It's just too hard to get him out that far to see it in his wheelchair, but he trusts that my mom watches over it and he knows she has done well when he enjoys the rewards that she brings inside to cook with. I miss those days. I miss the time when the three of us used to work together in the same spot I have always known as the garden. Though time has passed and things have changed it still remains a bountiful home for the plants that we place there. Most summer days I can still find my mom there. Even at her age she still weeds and waters the large space on her own. It is her therapy, and it brings her peace to return to a routine that she has known for so many years. I am grateful that she still enjoys it, and I am grateful that she teaches my children about it's importance. Most of all I am grateful that this same garden I have known forever is still a place where I can continue to make memories with my family. I love watching my hooligans get so excited about putting the seeds in the earth and caring for them as they grow. This is something they now share with my parents, and even though grandpa can't go out and see it, he gets to hear all about the experiences they have there and he enjoys it through their laughter and stories. It's why I will always think of the garden as a place of love. It's the only way I've ever known it, and now I can share it with my children. Just look at what a happy place it is.