Dad's front yard.
I talked about digging in the dirt yesterday, and while it is something I enjoy doing, it also makes me aware of the loss of one of my best gardening buddies…my dad. He died in the month of May, but any sunny spring day reminds me that he is gone.
I began my life in the fields with Dad and I always associated “outside” with him and “inside” with Mom. Mom loved flowers and often worked outside in the early spring, but her fragile health and her intolerance of heat made her less apt to be outside by choice. When we chopped cotton or harvested grapes I knew Mom spent most of the time miserable and would suffer a headache that evening.
Dad and I planted gardens and gathered vegetables all summer. Mom took care of them once they got to the kitchen. I often think that Mom should have had more of a say in what was planted because Dad always planted enough for three families and then was reluctant to waste it. Mom spent hours freezing and canning vegetables. I snapped beans and cut tomatoes, but I preferred to be out picking.
After I became an adult with my own garden I also became the recipient of LOTS of gardening advice. Dad had his own ways of doing things and those ways didn’t always agree with what I tried or read about in a magazine. Dad was never shy about telling me what I was doing wrong! Even in his last year he corrected my grape pruning and often pointed out weeds or baby trees I had neglected to pull from my flower beds.
Of course Dad and I also agreed on many things simply because we had gardened together for so many years. And when I was small we were joined by his dad, who had taught him most of what he knew about growing plants. We also enjoyed exchanging seeds and sharing seedlings and comparing our successes and failures. He introduced me to cleomes and I gave him his first corn poppy seeds.
I’ll plant cleomes soon. I’ll dig in the dirt for many more days to come. And I’ll miss my gardening buddy, but I have many great memories of our times outside.