This first week of June, I feel compelled to drift back to my mother’s garden…to the plain country home of my childhood where I first explored the secrets of the universe…and growing things.
I dream of my mother’s garden with its orderly assymetry of neat rows suddenly interjected by feathery bright cosmos sprouting up amidst the dill or the tiny faces of miniature pansies peeking up from amongst the potatoes.
As long as I can recall, Mom always worked in her garden for five months a year. She spent hours watering, hoeing, weeding and digging and never seemed to tire of her labours, through days sun-soaked or rain-swept. Our lives were happily entangled in a burgeoning world of winding cucumber vines, snow peas, belgian beans, carrots, sweetpeas and snapdragons, petunias, sunflowers, hollyhocks and bachelor’s buttons. Things just kept growing.
That was a long time ago. Or so it seems. And except for a much smaller patch of soil which Mom now hoes and seeds, things haven’t changed much in her gardening world. She still itches to be out cultivating. The morning glories now climb one trellis, an orange honeysuckle the other. And I realize that Mom has become a master at saving seeds and preserving a legacy.
The belgian beans and snow peas she plants can’t be purchased anywhere. The seeds are ‘carried over’ year after year. The beans originally crossed the ocean to Canada when my aunt’s mother-in-law emigrated from Europe. The snow peas came from somewhere in the ‘old country’ and belonged to my great grandmother. They are ‘heritage seeds’. Eating the ‘fruit’ of these seeds once the plants have grown is like a sudden burst of something new and rich and old and exotic all at once…a fresh and unique heavenly treat. Mom serves the beans boiled plain with a dab of butter. The beans exude a rare nutty flavor that is impossible to duplicate and the peas are exceptionally sweet and tender, and are wide-shaped and much thinner than any standard modern day varieties I’ve found.
Not surprisingly, my mother is a woman of faith. Like the seeds she holds dear and guards so tenderly and wisely, her faith seems to hold wondrous secrets about well-being, longevity, happiness, joy, peace, and hope. Mom shares her faith as generously and warmly and naturally as she does her bright garden and curved flower borders her neighbours so often admire. Right now, her irises and peonies are starting to put on a show. Mom keeps on weeding and hoeing and managing her garden. There is no end to her toils, and she doesn’t mind. To her, it’s all play. And there are a few yellow daylilies sticking up near the winter onions this year.
Saving seeds…there’s so much more to this garden than meets the eye…
© S. Michaels 2012