gardens past

Posted: October 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

I remember bare feet in the strawberry patch in the garden across the street, my fingers sticky sweet and pink and the moment of terrible surprise when a honeybee stung between my toes.

I remember apricots from a neighbor’s tree – a gift – so small and perfect, lined up on the kitchen counter.  How their heavy scent filled the room.  The warm pie later that day still counts at the top of my “best food experiences ever” list. 

I remember sitting on the back step, shelling  peas carefully into a bowl.  The taste of them, raw and hard, was and is the flavor of the color green, in my mind.

I remember bending over the rhubarb patch with a knife in my and, carefully cutting stalks, the reminder clear in my head (the leaves are poison!)  The raw stalks were crunchy and bitter, but I could never resist trying one while I stood over the pile of lopped leaves. 

I remember the time we had company, and my friend and I took it upon our little selves to pull every last green onion from the garden out behind the garage – a surprise for our parents, if you will. 

I remember trips to the orchard for full bushels of apples, and the lumpy goodness of warm applesauce just a few hours later. 

I remember tomatoes and green beans lined up in jars by the hundreds in the kitchen and back porch.  How we listened for the *pop* of the lids sealing as they cooled.  How rich I felt, staring at the winter’s stores on a fall afternoon.  How pretty the jars were in their sameness.

I remember shucking corn, delicately peeling away the little silks.  Sitting at the kitchen table, watching while my mom used an electric knife to cut it away in straight lines, stacking the squared-off cobs in steaming piles and using a canning funnel to fill plastic freezer bags with the funny little planks of stuck-together kernels. 

I remember my daughter’s excitement on the days we dug potatoes and onions – her enraptured delight that a pitchfork turned dirt and food came forth from the earth.  How we spread the take out on sheets,  pulling up the corners into makeshift bags to carry them in the house. 

I remember all of my daycare kids crowded into the kitchen, helping to shuck corn, and their shrieks of awe and horror and laughter at the fat, gruesome bug that fell out of a corn husk, only to be pounced on and instantly devoured by our house cat. 

I remember sending those kids home at the ends of other days, their hair and clothing saturated with the scent of my spaghetti sauce that had bubbled all day on the stove and could be smelled from the alley where their parents parked to pick them up.  I remember sending them home with jars of my salsa and the grape jelly whose real grape flavor wrecked me forever for the grocery store stuff. 

Fall is here, and the farmers are harvesting the corn and beans.  The air is perfect and the sun is just right, and I miss my garden and my hours spent canning and freezing in the kitchen more than ever.  What I’d give just for one uninterrupted day of that, this week. 

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