Monday, June 1, 2009

Granny's Garden

One of the things that I remember about my Mom is her garden. She tended it like everything else in her life, with lots of love. Here is my favorite picture of Mom, aka Granny, aka Momma, with two of her five grandchildren.


The eldest niece (on the left) is now grown and in the throes of wedded bliss and new home ownership. Mrs Fer's Mom, iPodite, and I have agreed that in the terrible event of the unthinkable happening--divorce--we get joint custody of Adorable Hub. He's just that adorable. Mrs Fer and Adorable Hub have recently returned to Texas, the motherland, from New York City, the foreign mecca.

Mrs Fer tells me she was inspired by my gardening post to go out and build one for herself (a garden, not a post), using only her bare hands, a few power tools, and her Adorable Hub. They chronicled it all here.

I responded that what she was feeling was not inspiration, possibly indigestion, but most certainly her grandmother's latent garden muse springing forth. Let me explain.

(at this point the screen gets all wavy and watery to simulate going back in time, WAY back in time. Just humor me, ok?)

It was the dawning of the age of aquarius, whatever that means. I don't remember what iPodite was into then, but I was a closet hippie. (after bearing three children and 30 years, my hips are no longer in the closet. They're out there. Way out, dude.) Imagine granny glasses, long brown hair, and a wardrobe that tended toward corduroy, denim, lace, and a shocking pink pantsuit that I will never live down.

The counter culture revolution was trickling down, deep down, into the heart of a 40something conservative, naive, country loving Georgia peach. (That would be Mom, aka Granny, aka Momma.)

When Mom and Dad first moved into the home where they spent the rest of their lives, there was a little creek at the bottom of a big ditch which ran behind and parallel to the backyards. Of course, we didn't call it a creek. In that part of Texas we called it a bayou. (pronounced slowly, and with lots of syllables between the first and second part, bah-yoo)

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The bayou was a (dundunduh!) forbidden zone for us kids because it was a breeding ground for water moccasins and copperheads. Of course, that meant the bayou was exactly where we wanted to play. (Sorry Mom and Dad, it was just too tempting.) And somehow, we never ran into any snakes.

What Mom and Dad did not know was that the snakes feared the kids more than the kids feared the snakes.

It was the city department of public works that ended the standoff between parents, kids and snakes by bringing in huge concrete pipes and filling in the ditch/bayou. The easement now became extra backyard for all who lived along it. And we were gifted with a big manhole on our part of it.

Mother was out mowing the yard one day and heard a moving, hissing sound underneath the manhole. The public works department sent out two workmen who removed the cover so they could say they "looked into" the situation, and then replaced it without further investigation. There was some mumbling about the possibility of alligators working their way through the slimy, wet darkness. Hey, it was a bayou.

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Anyway, after falling under the spell of JI Rodale, Adelle Davis, and a local gardening expert named Bob Flagg, Mom decided she wanted to plant an organic garden on the back forty (feet, not acres.) I think maybe she was just tired of mowing the extra lawn.

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(Mom's gardening notes. I loved her handwriting.)

There was a flurry of activity involving tillers and dirt and planting, and the second year that manholed grass covered alligator alley of a city easement had turned into a 30 by 50 foot organic garden. In the late afternoons, Mom would grab her handled basket, don her gardening hat and gloves (a proper Southern lady always wears gloves), and disappear to the back 40 only to reappear 10 or 15 minutes later with a basket full of okra, beans, tomatoes, corn, or cucumbers.

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(first okra plant, picture taken with an old Argus 35mm film camera by a young amateur photographer who shall go unnamed.)

Mom loved her garden. Somewhere I have a short video filmed after we had moved away to the Frozen North. Our Principessa, still in her nightgown and barefooted (a proper Texas native spends most of the summer barefoot), had followed Mom out to the garden and I managed to film a second or so of conversation before Mom realized what I was doing and protested.

And so, my dear Mrs Fer, although I appreciate your thanks, it's not me but Mom/Granny/Momma you should thank for the gardening inspiration. We are both, in a sense, flexing her green thumb in our dirt filled endeavors.

Here's hoping our gardens will be filled with as much love as hers.

(note--the younger niece, the Animal Whisperer, has a different garden I need to tell you about sometime.)