In Teton City, Idaho, where I grew up, everyone had a garden. The sign at the outskirts of town when I was a girl said: Population 350. The congregation of our church was larger than the population of the town. The standard lot in Teton was an acre. That gave you room for a house, a large lawn with flowers, a very big vegetable garden, and a pasture with barn for cows, chicken coop, pig pen, and maybe a shed for sheep--or a horse. (We also had a baseball diamond adequate to the game of “workup” and a very big swing.)
By the time I was growing up (the second round of kids in the family), it was clear my dad wasn’t going to continue full time as a farmer and our pasture and buildings in the back had seen better days, but did we have a garden. Rows and rows and rows of glorious vegetables--and berries (raspberries, strawberries). In the vegetable garden, rows of: beans, peas, corn, beets, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbages, potatoes, onions. Nothing fancy to be sure--no argula or herbs in sight. But lots of rhubarb to go with the strawberries. And plum trees and apple trees in the back (the only fruit that would grow in southeastern Idaho). We grew up “foundering” on the bounty of the garden (that was the word of my Mom). Glorying in each vegetable as it became available. Lettuce with sugar wrapped inside. Corn on the cob. New potatoes and peas. Strawberry and rhubarb pie. . . . . And canning the bounties that exceed our abilities to consume. The memories of that summer bounty coming to our table all winter.
Recently I found a notebook that my grandmother had kept, starting in the middle of WW2. A few entries about babies, children, war, illness. But then the notebook found the rhythm which continued well toward the end of the fifties and beyond (when I knew and loved my grandma well): Grandma carefully noted how many bushels of tomatoes, apricots, peaches, apples, pears she had grown or purchased and canned--how many quarts, how many pints. I remember my grandma’s “fruit room” and my mom’s.
As a young married in the still “hippie” Seattle of the early seventies, I planted a huge garden myself. And then tripled the size of that garden when I moved to Utah. I grew bushels of fruit, berries, vegetables. Canned them (and by then froze them). I call this my earth mother phase.
That phase ended some 30 years ago. Since then I’ve gone on to serial lives: student, editor, and now information architect at a computer company (and what in the world could that mean). But there is still a gardener inside me hoping for one final act.
The gardener has had a lean decade or two--patios and pots. And two small “1-foot gardens.” But now I’m making a final stand. Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked with a landscaper to create a garden plan for my back yard. Get rid of that grass. Plant native plans that will stay green and need little attention through the year. And give me room for my vegetables and berries. Next Thursday, the work begins. I’ve decided not to remodel my kitchen. Rather I’m remodeling my yard.
And he promises to have it completed in time to plant my vegetables. I checked last night that my wireless for the computer will reach back to the corner where my little table nook will go. So I’m hoping to unite the best of two worlds.
Hoping this is more than a dream. . . . .