At Home

My parents had learned about growing and preserving from their parents. It was my mom and grandpa who taught Dad about growing other crops here in Illinois. One year before we moved to a bigger house, our front yard was tilled and made into a garden. The soil was good and the amount of sunlight was better than the backyard. People stopped and asked if that was really corn in our front yard. “Yes, just a couple rows.” We had so much in that shared garden plot with my grandparents that we just grew a little bit of each crop at home to have it on hand (rather than a thirty minute drive away). After my grandparents and the cabins were gone, my parents shared a garden with their neighbors. I learned how to run the rototiller, set straight rows, seed the crops, set out plants, pick, wash, and preserve the harvests in more detail with my parents. One of my jobs was to skin the tomatoes for Mom, and it is still one of my jobs when we can tomatoes even now.

Each year, when we were kids, my brother and I got to pick one new crop to grow at the cabin. For me, that meant looking through the seed catalogs and laboring over my choice. For my young brother, it meant begging for something he loved to eat. One year, I chose popcorn and we had huge harvests. It was hard work shelling that popcorn off the cob, but we were able to gift a jar to each of my aunts and uncles for Christmas. Another year, my brother chose peanuts. We dug and dug in the loose soil to pull those peanuts out, but there were volunteer peanuts in that area for years afterward. As a child of about six years old, he didn’t realize that raw peanuts are not really eaten. My poor mother had to figure out what to do with all those peanuts!

If you had ever visited my parents’ home, you would have seen my mom’s true passion showing in her flowerbeds. She could put plants together in those narrow beds and they’d be full of beautiful, colorful flowers all season. For Mother’s Day, she and I would go shopping for annuals for her planters and baskets and then go to her house to plant them. Once in a while I’d see her looking at a perennial or she’d ask me about it and whether I thought it would work in her yard. Of course, I’d add it to the cart and tell her to give it a try. She introduced me to so many annuals like heliotrope, lantana, and blue lobelia. Her last spring on earth was warm quite early, and I made sure that all her planters and baskets were planted and set out so she could see her beautiful yard without any of the work. She sat and painted butterfly houses at the picnic table or visited with friends instead while they enjoyed the flowers.

By Amy

4 thoughts on “Becoming Miss Amy (part 3)”
  1. I’ve known you for lots of years and I’m enjoying your back story. Keep up the good work 😊

    1. People ask how I learned to grow, can and bake so I figured this was a good way to put it “on paper” so to speak.

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