Harvesting Memories

At 25 I rebelled against my parents’ years of gardening instruction and removed my shoes, walking barefooted along the rows of budding vegetables.  My toes curled around the clumps of dried dirt.  The broken soil held on tightly to the rooted weeds I so desperately tried to pull from the bedded earth.  I was stilled by the familiarity of this garden.

Growing up my siblings and I were guaranteed several days of fierce gardening each summer.  The long mornings, and even longer afternoons, of those precious childhood Saturdays spent in the garden were branded by the dusty film that coated our skin.  The chorus of complaints was ignored.  We came to understand that protesting did little to change the fact that by day’s end we would have a perfectly weeded and pruned garden to show for our efforts.

My mom would leave for the kitchen and return with six equally sized rootbeer floats.  This signaled the official end to our work.  Finding a sturdy stick from the yard, we’d scrape the bottoms of our shoes, mining every last bit of compacted mud and dirt from our soles.  Occasionally my brother would pinch together pieces of the remaining dirt between his fingers and throw them in my sisters’ and my general direction.  This warranted a warning from my dad.   

Years after our last family garden party I’ve discovered we all seem to have slightly different translations of the same story.  Regardless, my siblings look back fondly and in some form or another have continued their own versions of the same tradition.  So at 25 I rebelled against the tradition as I remember it.  Instead of grudgingly agreeing to help, I voluntarily tilled the ground and weeded the rows.  Instead of wearing sensible work shoes, I wore none.  I look back with nothing but fondness.