Thursday, February 18, 2010


I admittedly know very little about how to grow stuff. Ask Mike. I'm lucky if my annual flowers make it to August. I have always loved plants--inside ones and outside ones. Especially, my family's gardens.

Especially my great-grandfather's. He lived and gardened until he was 95 and I was 15. He lived in a suburb of Cleveland and had an acre of land, max. But he made the most of it. His house was up on a ridge and I remember climbing rickety stairs down the ivy covered hill to get to the shangri-la he maintained below. The first stop were the fruit trees: applies, plums and pears. I particularly remember how delicious the plums always were.

After the fruit trees were the berry bushes. He has lots of raspberries and blueberries. I particularly remember the blueberries. Yum. In fact, the blueberries ripening were always the draw down to great-grandpa's garden. Their lifespan is so short and the birds are so primed to steal them that we had to strike while the iron was hot! So, we'd load up the car with as many friends as we could muster to share the bounty and head on down to pile nature's most delicious blue candies in our baskets. Then we'd go home and bake blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins and blueberry pie.

And then just out beyond the shade of the fruit trees, edged by the berry bushes was the vegetable patch. Garlic, chamomile, corn, beets, onions, carrots, tomatoes and peppers. Great-grandpa was from Slovenia and new all the old-country tricks for keeping the goodies all year. His house always smelled like the dried garlic and he always had something good cooking on the stove.

No, I could't keep a plant alive if my life depended on it, but all my life I've appreciated the fruits of others' labor.

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