So, today we are planting our garden. A little later than we had hoped, but thanks to some wonderful farmers from the market we have a box of “ready-to-go” plant starts. It will be a great learning experience for the kids – we will measure the plot today, decide which plants to put where, and begin our summer journal. Even the four year old will have a hand in it – he has the duty of creating the picture for the cover of our journal showing what the garden “will someday look like”.
I recall my summers spent weeding, picking tomato worms off the plants (I can’t believe that as a young girl I actually cut them in half with the shears and didn’t freak out!), identifying the “good” bugs and the “bad” bugs in the garden, popping a fresh green bean into my mouth while I worked, and helping create the “pie tin” fence to keep the squirrels out of the corn. I was so fortunate to grow up in an area that allowed me to experience “farming”. We had a very large garden every summer, as many of our neighbors did, and a common sight along the side of our county roads come late summer was a box of tomatoes and cucumbers with a sign simply stating “FREE”. Our home was situated between two farmers’ fields – one of them did not mind us playing in it all summer long, and the other…well….not so much. We were just much more careful in that field. But that was a place of magic for me….there was a huge tree in the back acreage of that field that would draw me out to it for some alone time. I would sit under that tree and look up, pretending I was in an enchanted place far, far away. I rarely brought anyone out there to play with me – my summers were long and hot and full of good books and imagination. A weekly trip to the library was a highlight for us – we had no central air conditioning, so this was also a special place to spend time and get lost in imagination.
As we dig into the earth today, I hope to share with my kids the simple pleasures of summer and rural living that I recall so fondly…and to give them the basis for loving the outdoors, fresh air, healthy foods that you grow for yourself, and the knowledge that your imagination is the best summer gear.