This was first published on May 1, 2014 as an email newsletter.
“It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in ’em,” said Captain Jim. “When I ponder on them seeds I don’t find it nowise hard to believe that we’ve got souls that’ll live in other worlds. You couldn’t hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn’t seen the miracle, could you?”
–L.M.Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams
When I was a little girl, my grandparents had a small veggie patch behind their garage. Grandpa Joe and I had a special connection since I was born on his birthday; he called me his “birthday girl.” I liked to hang out with him and because he was in the garden, so was I. His was a “square foot garden” before the term became vogue –an amazing amount of plants packed into a very small space. After he would load up a kraft brown sack, we would head inside to wash and sample. He would sit me on the counter so I could be closer to his height while he washed and sliced, and we talked and laughed, my red Ked’s sneakers swinging. Mmmm….the grassy taste of a thick-walled pepper….so it began….
I was named after my grandmother; she was more the flower side of the garden team at 32 Hamilton Street. And while I thought this newsletter to be a Mother’s Day tribute, it’s really more about heritage.
Grandma Jean’s mother, Mary, came to the United States as a young woman and settled in a Polish neighborhood south of Buffalo, New York. I have only some crinkled photos of my great grandmother’s garden (two at left,) but the point is the love for it, the metaphoric seeds for it, were passed down. My mother was a gifted gardener, even though an English Professor by trade, her garden just as beautifully composed as any of her writing.
The best thing about gardens, and about seeds, really, is that they represent hope. Potential. Promise of a full harvest. Faith that the best is yet to be. If pests and disease come by you can try again tomorrow. These were lessons I learned from my family, rooted into the very core of me. My mother and grandparents are now “souls… [living] in other worlds” and I miss them all so much. A wise man once said to me, “It’s never about what we lose; it’s about what we get to keep.”
I’m keeping seeds…