“Gardens are a form of autobiography.”
Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993
Through out the years whenever I daydream about my youth and I want to drift to a place of happiness without fail I find myself remembering the garden that my family had on my maternal grandparents property. Honestly at this point in life I don’t remember my specific age but I must have been about 5 years old or there about. We lived in an apartment on Bridge St. which was right down the road from my paternal grandparents and thus didn’t have a lawn of our own.
I can still visualize the garden and the layout of the plants. The garden itself was probably 10’ x 40’ give or take a few feet. It was nestled between my grandparents and my aunt and uncle whom lived next door. The space itself was tucked neatly between the scotch pine, blue spruce, maple and oak, it was a little sanctuary of sorts.
There are a lot of small events that may have seemed meaningless to me or those around me at the time though now I look back on them as fond memories. I remember spending way too much time loitering in the pea patch. I can remember picking them off of the vine and devouring pod after pod on the spot and how fresh they tasted. Sometimes I would open the pea pod and scoop them out eating them separately, savoring every individual bite. I certainly remember the warmth of the summer sun on my skin and can still hear the birds in symphony. I remember the fleeting breeze that would work its way through the meadow directly above the garden where Pa’s barn stood, even the little barn owl that would sit quietly in the rafter of that old barn. It seemed like we had an abundance of corn but that is all a bit foggy now. I do recall digging for potatoes and coming across a rotted seed potato and was shocked that this is how we “made” potatoes. Then there was the process of carrying the watering buckets from my grandparents house to the garden over and over again as the cool aluminum struck my knee on every second step and I spilled more on myself than ever made it to the thirsty root of the plants. It didn’t really matter though it dried quickly in the heat of summer and it was refreshing.
As veggies would come into season I would help my parents disperse them amongst our relatives. On one afternoon I was given the responsibility of taking a bag of tomatoes to my paternal grandparents. When I got there my great grand father “Popsie” and great aunt Fan were there as well. Within moments my cheeks were rosy from elderly hands pinching at them and my pockets were full of loose coins that I had exchanged the “free” veggies for. Upon arriving home my skills as an entrepuner were not fully appreciated.
I am sure that now as an adult I garden for a number of reasons. The exercise is motivation, a nurturing spirit helps, a fascination with the process of growth and the opportunity to spend quality time with my children in high on the list, a desire to eat chemical free goes a long way, but deep down somewhere within my soul I am probably searching for the lost Eden of childhood. A time period when my parents seemed to be in love and relatives who are now gone were regulars in my life, a place where the summer seemed endless and there were always rewards for your hard work. Memories have a funny way of filtering the truth for better or for worse but this particular period in my life had a lasting effect and hopefully will carry forward with my children regardless of how short that summer long ago may have truly been.