The Good of the Land
It happened on a sunny summer afternoon somewhere around my twelfth birthday. I had been in a dark room all morning watching Star Wars movies on a rented VCR. I was just rewinding (for the 27th time) the part where Leia kisses Luke to make Han jealous, when I heard my mother call from the kitchen.
“Je-nny! I need you to go down to the garden and get me some carrots for supper. Will you do that please?”
My stomach sank and I may have had an uncharitable thought or two as I dragged myself out the back door. What happened next is burned hilariously into my brain. Picture an ant under a magnifying glass. The sun was blinding! The heat, scorching! I may have actually gasped. Such was my predicament as I stepped onto the back porch. You’re thinking that we lived in Arizona or New Mexico. Actually it was……ahem…..Oregon. In my defense, however, we lived on the desert side!
The rest is kind of hazy. The garden was far from the house down a hill — a distance of, gosh, at least fifty yards! I retrieved the carrots and made it back to the shelter of the curtained family room.
What’s the point of this story? If it hadn’t been for the vegetable garden, I might have never seen the sun that day! My parents actually required our labor in the garden on a fairly regular basis. My memory is of us doing the bulk of the work, but I’m pretty sure my parents would tell a different story. In true sadistic parental fashion, I have passed on the legacy to the next generation. My own children now eat their bread “by the sweat of their face”.
Despite my upbringing, I may not have picked up the vegetable (and fruit) growing habit as an adult had it not been an economic necessity. These days I’m fond of saying that we were “protected” by poverty (we were never really that poor, but it makes the point!). Because of our financial circumstances, my kids ate whole grains, fresh organically grown fruits and vegetables, and protein from free-range animals. They missed out on all the dyes, preservatives, sugar and chemicals in breakfast candy (oops, I mean “cereal”) and other pre-packaged foods….(sadly, they were forced to eat hearty hot bowls of oatmeal and nine-grain porridge on those cold winter mornings….sigh).
They reaped the additional rewards of sunshine, fresh air, exercise, and family cooperation as we worked together in the garden and at the kitchen table. It was just work to me then, but I see the benefits now, and I’m thankful beyond words.
Finally, decades later, I’m madly and passionately in love with gardening. Try it and see for yourself. I promise, it’ll cure what ails ya’!