Memories from the garden

You know, I was talking to my husband about this recently. When I was a child we always used to plant things when Dad was home from the ship. Not much. A rather simple summer garden in Southern Maryland. It was always when he was home though, never when he was out to sea.
The garden we did have when he was gone consisted of the most lovely Peonies. I remember Mom didn't really like having the air conditioning on a whole lot as it was so expensive so early summer mornings I would get to smell those first thing. That wonderful honey smell drifting through the house.
I remember Mom had bright Pink and a reddish Magenta one. I think there was one more but I cannot recall.
When Dad wasn't around and Mom was at work my brother and I went to our next door neighbor (actually across the street) as our babysitter lived over there. She brought us over there quite often as we were very content with helping her pick tomatoes, green beans, corn all with the cicadas serenading us. That garden was huge. Or at least it seemed like it at the time. I remember my babysitters Dad was always working with the compost pile they had at the back or fiddling with one of his tillers or what not all while my babysitters Mom crouched near us in her housedress and apron and taught us how to pick the very best fruits and veggies.
My babysitters Mom taught me how to identify mint (a lesson I've taught my son as well), how to identify a copperhead(she actually found one to show me!), and she even taught me about canning. Never before had I stepped into a kitchen that STUNK of the eye watering stench of pickles being made. Yes, I still think it's a eye watering stench. But now I appreciate them more since I really love my pickles. Especially cornichons.
Soon though, Dad came home and we moved to Hawaii. Gardening there was COMPLETELY different and for several different reasons. First, Dad and I worked more on the yard together just to make it look nice. Then everything grew so easily there. We had a papaya tree out front. A coconut tree out back and bananas down the sidewalk. I learned my first lessons about tropical plants and their pests. I learned about aphids (didn't know what they were yet though). I just figured I'd keep picking the infected leaves, branches and such off until they were gone. Soon the entire pepper plant was gone. Oops.)
Next thing we know, our time is up in Hawaii and we moved to drab, dreary Southwest Tennessee. We kept a garden but with me being sixteen my interest was more geared towards boys and friends. Not cauliflower and tomatoes. Biggest memory there was helping my Mom can about 15 pints of cut corn. In a hot water bath. (any experienced canners/preservers out there should already be gasping in horror)
Little did we know what would happen. Since the corn had not been canned using a pressure cooker the sugars and all built up, the corn was not acidic enough and several months later we had jars popping their lids to emit noxious fumes. THAT, I think is one of my last memories of anything having to do with gardening or preserving food. I don't know if Mom and Dad gave up at that time because of that experience or what. I just know we barely kept a garden after that.

I guess I have Mr and Mrs Donelly on Andrews Street and my Dad to thank because now I find myself teaching my son things about plants and I feel a little spurt of joy. I can pass what I learned on and hopefully one day, when my son is going on 40 he'll be able to pass it on to his own. That's what life is all about.

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