In some ways this is my favorite time of the year. I love the way that life seems to spring forth all over. And best of all it is the time to start planting. Whether it is flowers, vegetables, trees, or any other I love the process of gardening. I have always loved to have my hands in the dirt. I do not know how to explain it yet it gives me such a sense of energy. Vincent is constantly telling me to wear gloves while I work outdoors, yet for some reason I do not enjoy it as much. I want the feel of the earth right next to me. To cover my hands seem to somehow diminish the full effect it has. It was my grandfather and grandmother who gave me my love for gardening. I remember there garden with such fond memories. I remember my grandfather in his overalls, pulling an onion from the ground and taking the first layer off then giving it to me to eat; its sweet taste feeling me with joy. My favorite gifts from them: a pint jar filled with small sweet red onions. I can not to this day eat, cook, or plant an onion without thinking of them.
My grandmother gave me the gift of preparation of the harvest. By watching her I learned tricks on cooking, storing, and also drying. Unfortunately these days a root cellar is not an easy thing to find so I have to at times improvise. Still I hold some of her ways and recipes close to heart. She did things the old way, from start to finish. She showed me how to utilize all parts and have less waste. She taught me simplicity. She taught me her secrets and told me stories of how many of the items she used to cook with could be used for other things as well.
Their driveway into their small stone house by the railroad tracks was of crescent shape. In front of her home was a stone flower bed with a stone archway. In the summer it was lined with a multitude of color. Such flowers as pansies, asters, and violets lined the borders. Mint, Sage, Lavender, and Rosemary could also be found. I remember other small flowers that grew off to the side of her home near an old cellar that housed the water pump. This area always had the appearance of being neglected yet she would wander through it on occasions bringing back a handful of treasures. She called it her wild garden. I later learned that this was where her wild herbs grew. In it grew Mustard, Poke, Garlic,Marjoram, Lemon Balm, Thistle and so many others.
Also in their yard stood a stone wash house and a small stone storage shed. Further back a chicken yard and a large Mulberry Tree. I remember gathering Mulberries each summer; the bottom of our feet stained with the color red and purple. Grandma would tell us the tree was a watcher and guarded the home from lightning. As she would spread the jam made of its fruit on our toast she would tell us it would likewise guard us and make us strong.
In my yard today many of the same things grow as did in theirs. My Rosemary sits at the southeast corner on my house. I have planted more this year as I simply love its aroma. I credit my grandma with giving this love to me. She would slip a sprig of it under my pillow as I slept on the sofa outside her bedroom, telling me that it would keep me safe and make the bad dreams stay away. I would go to sleep with its fragrance surrounding me. Sweet Basil and Mint are also a part of my garden although I have them planted in large pots that I bring into the house as the year begins to get colder. I love having them fresh all year round. My Apple Mint makes a lovely cup of tea and is quite useful when I have a bit of an upset stomach. Simply chewing on a leaf lends the same effect. As for the Basil, it lends a wonderful taste to many of my dishes. And as my grandma would say, if there is a basil plant in the home, there will always be peace in the home. Sage and Lavender can also be found growing. I have an array of Sages, from blue to white and more.
Also in my yard are the multitude of wild herbs which seems to multiply as the years pass. At the moment the bottom of my yard towards the woods is covered with a multitude of wild flowers. Lambs ear, prairie clover, asters, dandelions, and more. Although I know that soon I will need to trim it, I leave it for a while as I love to see its color each morning.
At the time I did not realize the wisdom in so many of the words she spoke to me. I took for granted at times the gift that their environment gave to me. As time has passed, I find myself thinking back to my times with my grandparents, especially my grandmother. She is with me always. I feel her presence with me often, especially while I tend my own garden or am busy in my kitchen. She offers me remembrance of her wisdom to aid in my talents. The place they once lived has long been gone. There is no trace of their small stone home or other buildings. The garden area and Mulberry and Cherry trees have since been cut down. Yet still I can visit them anytime I please. I need only close my eyes and remember. I need only sit on the ground and feel the dirt fall through my fingers. I need only stand in my kitchen and cut my own herbs taken from my garden. They are both with me still.