You never know what is going to evoke some distant memory.
This summer, we put in a “real” garden for the first time in many years—and that is only because my neighbor kindly agreed to let me use a corner of otherwise unused pasture. Early gardening tasks have been routine—preparing the soil, planting, watering, weeding, watching things grow and anticipating.
The anticipation is gradually being replaced by realization. For example, yesterday I noticed that there were some radishes ready to pull. I pulled up one or two, and then it began—a flood of decades-old memories.
From as early as I can remember—maybe age five or so, my parents had a large garden; about an acre in size. They planted corn, beans, many tomato plants, etc. It was a “canning” garden, and Mother “put up” jars of everything possible that would last us thorough the winter.
At age five, I was a full member of this process, and the radishes became my responsibility. With patient guidance, little fingers planted the tiny seeds; tended, and watched as the little plants gradually grew (at a painfully slow pace for a youngster eager to see results).
I remember being fascinated, even at that age, that those little green plants could come from seeds the size of a grain of sand.
Then the day came when I was allowed to pull up the first ready-to-harvest radishes. It was like Christmas in May for that five-year-old. My first garden crop!
As I grew older, my duties in the garden expanded. But the radishes were always my responsibility.
Many Years Later
This spring, my thoughts were on planning and planting—get the garden planted as soon as possible, and in the process I put out several rows of radish seeds—just part of the plan.
Yesterday, it became clear to me. Radishes are just about the easiest and quickest thing to grow. My parents knew me—not always a patient child—so they introduced me to gardening with the plant that provided the quickest results. And, as I harvested those first radishes from this year’s garden, a flood of “long-unopened” childhood memories raced through my mind.
In retrospect, my parents provided many experiences that allowed me to discover and learn, and fostered a continuing sense of curiosity. I do not believe their parenting was by chance or accidental. I think they were guiding me to wonder, discover, and to constantly want to learn more—about anything.
There may have been just a hint of a tear in the corner of my eye; there was definitely a smile. And there were radishes with dinner.
Yesterday was a good day.