My love of plants and watching things grow came from my father. We used to kid him that he was a farmer at heart instead of a salesman. He was both, of course. While he had the sales, he didn’t have the farm at least not much more than an acre of land. But he could utilize every spot of ground. He would tend his peach orchard, the beans and okra and tomatoes he grew with all the love and care of a man feeding thousands instead of a family of five. While he would fill dirt, spread fertilizer, watch out for mealy bugs or some other type of insect, I’d follow him around like a baby chick. I still remember him coming home from work, changing into his old clothes, and then heading out the back door to check on his plants. I can still see his sun-weathered face and the joy there in his eyes whenever he would discover that his peas had finally sprouted–or the cucumbers were growing like weeds–or watching him yank up a fistful of onions out of the ground to go with the tomatoes he’d pulled off the vine. Nothing would go to waste either. We always had plenty of fresh veggies for salads, side dishes, and sometimes at supper we’d make meals out of the stuff from Dad’s garden, not a single serving of meat in sight.
I’m nowhere near as good at putting a seed in the ground though and watching it grow like he did. Now my sister has a green thumb. She can grow…anything. But despite my hit and miss efforts, every time I tend the garden, I think of my Dad. Doesn’t matter what time of year it is, doesn’t matter what I’m trying to grow, nor does it matter if I’m seeing the results I want. Every time I water lettuce or kale, every time I pick a tomato off the vine, I think of him.
So thanks, Dad, As I enjoy the fall weather, thanks for all the great memories we had planting in the spring, picking peaches in the summer, and harvesting the crop of radishes he loved in the fall.
There are memories that stay with us from childhood. Remembering the way my Dad looked standing in the garden is still one of the best ones.