A Garden and My Mother
Her garden was her haven.
Children tearing around the house, tearing into each other, someone bursting into tears. “Mom!” “Mom!” No answer.
But we knew where to look.
If it was summer and the sun was shining, all we had to do was run outside and around the house to the garden plot in the back corner. She. would. be. there.
The best part, in her mind I’m sure, was that by the time we’d run all the way to the garden, we had probably forgotten why we were desperate to find her. All the running, the beauty and freshness of the outdoors, the sight of Mom in her predictable spot: how is a little pinch on the arm or a foot stuck in our path going to win over that?
Chances are if we did have some tears left when we arrived, we didn’t leave in the same frame of mind. We knew that if we stuck around, Mom would get to talking, and her stories were worth listening to. She didn’t talk very much, but in the garden, she would reminisce.
We would hear about the year her father, the grandpa we never knew, decided the family would produce pickles to sell. He came home with crocks and vinegar and seeds. Seeds upon seeds. Grandma and the children planted, weeded, picked and pickled cucumbers. They made delicious batch after batch of perfect pickles. And then – no one wanted them. Grandpa could not sell them wholesale, so he took them to the city and peddled them. But hordes of them went unsold and ended up as mulch for the next year’s garden.
Was mom upset about the waste of effort and loss of equity? Not really. She made it sound like an adventure, a funny story.
There were lots of grandpa stories, because that is what he was. A story maker. A dreamer. A trier of new things. An inventor. An entrepreneur. But never rich. No enterprise made it to the patent office or onto the lists of best business of the year. He sold his trucking firm just when it finally got a good start. He couldn’t draw his plans for his self-propel swather, so the company hired him (and his son to interpret his dreams), and produced the machine. And made millions.
So pickles? What was the loss of a few pickles?
This story scares me.
It shouldn’t, I guess.
My mother created her own beauty, and she showed me how.