Yesterday, I mowed with a mask. Ick. The last time I mowed (a few weeks ago), I became sick with a horrendous sinus infection that sent me to the ER once, Urgent Care once, and my primary physician once. I’ve been afraid to mow since. I survived thanks to antibiotics, and lived to mow again. I saw my first snake of the season in my yard last night, and watched as it slithered away. After mowing I felt good, so I began to weed my miniature garden. Not much is growing there but tomatoes, an eggplant, garlic, and romaine lettuce. But it requires maintenance. Everything else I planted I lost due to lack of maintenance. (Oopsies. My bad.)
As I was pulling weeds around my tomato plants, I was overtaken by their aroma. Suddenly, I was 10 years old, and walking through my grandpa’s garden, following him as he identified each row of plants for me. He had a large layout, with every vegetable I could imagine. He even grew sunflowers that seemed to tower over humans. The smell of the tomato plants were pungent as we traipsed up and down the rows. He wielded a pocket knife (always!), and pruned this plant, or removed a veggie from that plant and cut into it. Gourds had been made into birdhouses on a long pole, and he had a grove of apple trees on another area of the property. I followed him into the woods once, as he searched for a certain plant and cut it off at the base (with his pocket knife, of course!) and put it in a bag he carried. I followed along, pointing at this plant or that, “Is this it grandpa?” “Sure is…..good eye!” or “No, that’s not it.”
He never “lived off the land” so to speak. He worked at a refinery. But he loved to grow things. He loved that garden, and gave away bagfuls of cucumbers, zucchini, squash, okra, and tomatoes to visitors. Grandma canned what she could tolerate and the rest was gladly given away. The garden went away after grandma died 10 years ago. The apple tree grove was cut down and a trailer put in it’s place for an uncle to live in. The chickens and geese are no longer there, either. Now, in his 90’s, he cannot keep up with those things.
I sat for a moment and sniffed the tomato plant and relived the past for a few moments and smiled to myself. Then I closed the little makeshift gate on my makeshift fence around my miniature garden, and went in the house with a feeling of gratitude.