Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Father's Garden

Most of my life I watched my father garden, and I learned a lot about life as I observed him adjust to the ever changing world that surrounded him there. He usually had an acre or more of vegetables growing every year and I watched as he spent hours and hours, days and days, and weeks and weeks planting the garden. He'd plant 20 rows of corn and the crows would eat 20 rows of corn. He'd plant beans and the rabbits would feast on the leaves. He'd plant tomatoes and the groundhogs would take one bite out of each one. And the deer—they liked EVERYTHING in the garden. So he put up an electric fence. That worked except for the things that could go under it like the rabbits. Then he put up a chicken wire fence inside the electric fence to keep those critters out. And that worked except for the creatures that burrowed under the fence like groundhogs. So, he buried fencing a foot underground and that worked for the digging critters. Now all he had left were the flying creatures. So, he put up scarecrows and shiny streamers and that sort of worked, except for the wild turkeys. And turkeys are like the deer, in that they like EVERYTHING in the garden. Turkey's are really smart and several years the turkeys did more damage to his garden that all of the other animals combined.

But yet he kept on. He would plant and plant again. He would hoe a row and he would weed a row. He would stake the tomatoes and build teepees for the beans. He would fertilize and he would carry water. And along about the middle of summer, the first of the bounty would need to picked and picked and picked. And my father was happy. That's where my main part, along with my sisters, would come in. Our job was to can and freeze all of the produce that was ripening. We had many all night sessions getting the peas or corn into the freezer before their natural sugars would change to starch. And although I complained at the time about how I had to do more work than my friends, I never complained when I got to eat the wonderful food from our garden.

As time went on and the kids moved away from home, my father still planted his huge gardens. He gave away most of what he grew, but he was happy. My mother finally convinced him that maybe the two of them didn't need such a large garden. It was hard, but he cut back. He adjusted just as he had when the crows ate all of his corn. And now, because of failing health, he doesn't live at home and he's not sure if there is a place to plant a garden where he is. However, he has adjusted and he is happy.

When I grow up, I want to be like my father and his gardens. I want to do things when they need to be done, just like my father did when he had to water his plants when they needed it, not just when he felt like it. I want to keep working on anything important until I get results, just like my father did when he had to plant his corn again and again. I want to adjust to changing situations just like my father did when he had to downsize his garden. And most of all, I want to find a way to be happy in any situation, just as my father did when he had to leave his garden and couldn't live at home any more.