Warm evenings were spent carrying the galvanized bucket of weeds from the turn-row to the compost. Then my grandmother and I would sit on the swing or at the picnic table shelling peas or some other lazy chore while patiently allowing the water hose to soak the furrows of each line before moving on to the next. Many late nights were spent running out every 20 minutes to move the hose with a flashlight. Goodness cannot be rushed.
The garden was not just a thing or a place; it was a state of mind. The words “I’m going to the garden” invoked an irresistible excitement that drew me out the door to see what was going on out there. The breeze was always cooler, the scent sweeter in the garden. Silence was savored in the rhythmic chop of a hoe, or the yielding tug of a weed between your fingers. Slowly moving through a forest of okra and corn stalks was the most delightful game. Feeling the warm earth clinging to the new red potatoes was the perfect appetizer for the creamy sauce dinner they promised later. Don’t get me wrong, my grandmother had more than an amble supply of roses, hydrangeas, and other old-tyme beauties surrounding the house. But her truest joy was in the enchanted vegetable garden.
Now I am an adult and she has gone on to her Master’s garden. I look at our picture and thank her for silently teaching me how to break down and rebuild furrows, how to carefully plant a row of seeds, how to thin out crops, how to tie and hang up onions to dry, how to sharpen tools, and how to enjoy life while working up a sweat. I did not learn everything but I do have the confidence to keep learning. I have her name, her patience, and her tenacity. I have the same dark earth running through my veins. We are gardeners and flowers will never be enough.