I stepped between the rows careful to place my feet in the furrows, the hot sun heating up my rubber boots. Pulling the weeds from our rows and rows of vegetables in our family garden was a summer ritual. And then in the fall, harvest came.
Around June, we planted the corn in long rows. The little ones would use a stick to measure the distance between the seeds, and the rest just dropped them in at intervals. We walked along. Dropping seeds as we went.
My siblings and I became comfortable with dirt and leaves and seeds and water. It didn’t take long to learn the difference between a baby corn-stalk and a weed playing dressup. And once we were old enough to tell the difference accurately we were assigned a number of rows to hoe and then weed each time we went out.
The earth smelled warm. Those hot days all lined up and we went out early to weed the garden. Up and down rows. With hoes at first and then a careful weeding close around the plants.
When I was little I didn’t like it. I whined and tried to get out of it as much as the next kid. Bad attitudes baked like casseroles in the garden at the back of our property.
But gradually and eventually it changed.
Instead of focusing on how hot it was, the bugs appearing out of nowhere and crawling all around, and the crusty dirt embedded under my nails in spite of my work gloves, I began to appreciate the stillness of an empty, hot, garden under a blue sky.
The cornstalks rustling.
The distinct green smell of tomato vines.
The sun toasting the back of your as you bent over the rows.
The early morning ritual of being outside before beginning the day’s activities or jumping into a lesson of math.
And the way you could just slowly and steadily get the job done and then look back and see that you did it well.
Yes, you have to do it again soon.
But it will be easier the next time. Fewer weeds. Less pain. And then the harvest comes which is another work in itself what with the picking and canning and bustle that goes into 200 quarts of tomatoes on the pantry shelf.
But good all the same.
Now. Those are the things that I want. The peaceful ritual. The passing on of earth, and plants, and sun, and hard work.
A legacy for my littles.
I’ll tell them stories. Maybe they’ll appreciate them. Maybe they won’t. And my garden is only a fraction of the size of my dad’s 50×100 ft. masterpiece, but still lessons can be taught and appreciation and character grown, right?
As an adult, the first thing I wanted when we bought a house with a yard was a space for a little garden. I love the transformation that takes place.
From dry brown earth to a managerie of plants and vegetables.
I love spending time outside. In the sun. And the heat. I love the feeling of the morning sun baking through my hair.
I still don’t like the feeling of dirt under my nails, but that’s what soap and gloves are for, right?
I like the ritual of reaching and pulling and throwing away.
I like the rhythm of planting and tending and picking the fruit.
I like the intentional motions that go into tending a garden and making things grow.
An intention I learned at home when I was little weeding row after seeming endless row of corn. And many other things. In our family garden.
This topic was inspired by Five Minute Friday at Lisa Jo’s, but I kept going and then edited after five minutes so it’s no longer a five minute thing.
I am linking up with my lovely (in)couraging writers group over here. We are playing with writing memoir. We would love for you to join us in the linkup, if you’d like, with a little piece of your story.