Throbbing Thumb

I don’t wear gardening gloves.  They get in my way.  I want to feel what I’m touching, get my hands dirty….  If I get blisters on my hands, I prefer it be due to hard work and not from an ill fitting glove.  And, if I’m handling briars, thorned limbs or spiny veggies, I greatly dislike having to stop what I’m doing to unhook my glove from the points of said barbs.

Better the glove than the fingers, some would say.  But, I’m not some…I’m me.

And, yes, I’ve received some injuries that I wouldn’t have had I been wearing gardening gloves. And, I have the scars to remind me. Nuff said.

Still, I prefer to go sans gloves.

And, as I see it, for good reason. I’ve also prevented some awful injuries because I wasn’t wearing gloves.  When you’re snipping branches and can’t see what you’re snipping and going only by feel…it’s good to have bare fingers and not gloved fingers.  Gloved fingers won’t feel the snips until it’s too late.

Just saying.

Anyway, as a result of my sans gloves way of gardening, I sit here with a throbbing thumb. Every time it dances on the space bar I’m reminded that I prefer to garden sans gloves.

(How many times did I hit the space bar in the above paragraph?)

A few days ago, while picking cucumbers and okra from the garden, I grabbed one of the afore mentioned veggies (both contain needle like spikes) in my bare hands as I’ve done hundreds of times and introduced three of those needle like spikes into the pad of my right thumb.

Throb…throb…throb…throb.

I could see them but I couldn’t get them out.  My skin is tough and leathery and once in, things have a tendency to remain in until they work themselves out.

Throb…throb…throb….

Yesterday, as I sat to type I noticed my right thumb felt a bit “odd” as it banged the space bar on my laptop.  A quick examination revealed redness and a swollen knot.  By evening, the swollen knot had become puss-filled with a dark center (yep that dark center is the little needle like spike).

Before I went to bed, I coated it with a dab of ichthammol ointment and wrapped the tarry, smelly stuff in three bandages. (Ichthammol is a drawing salve – today’s over the counter preparation is not as strong as what was available 60 years ago, but sufficiently strong to produce results.)

This morning the knot strains against the bandage and throbs in time with my heart.  In a few hours, I’ll release my damaged thumb from its bandage and wash off the black stuff. And, depending on what I find, I’ll either apply more ichthammol ointment and wrap it again, or I’ll sterilize a needle and make a way through my tough skin for the spike to retreat as pressure beneath it builds and pushes it upward and out.

As I look out toward the garden, I know it’s time to pick okra and cucumbers again.  For only a moment I consider slipping on Hubby’s work gloves for the task of picking them…for only a moment.

Part of the joy of gardening (for me) is to feel – skin on skin. I love the textures, the feel, the lumps and bumps, the smoothness and roughness, the fuzziness, slipperyness, wet coolness or dry warmth of each fruit that I handle.  From touch I can tell the size, ripeness, health, maturity, and pickability of each thing that my hand grasps. My fingers see what my eyes cannot.  Touching – it’s all a part of the experience.  And, I want to experience it all.

Even if that means the occasional thorn in the flesh. 😉

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Rain and Renewal

Throughout the morning, as opportunity presented itself, I checked the radar to see how close the red and yellow blobs were and if they were still tracking in our direction. There was nothing I could do to direct the rain our way other than pray.  And, as much as I wanted rain and our gardens needed it…doing so felt selfish.

Would it rain?  Yes.  It would rain…was raining elsewhere.  Would it rain here? Only God knew the answer to that question.

And, I was okay with that.

As I surveyed God’s Garden #2 from my back porch, I noticed the okra had wilted. The sun was hot on my skin.  A quick glance at the sunny sky above told me all I needed to know. There was an immediate need and I had a temporary fix, so I turned on the water (just a trickle) and placed the hose at the feet of the okra. Every 15 minutes I went outside and moved the hose 6 inches down the row.

Within 5 minutes of receiving the life-giving liquid, the okra had perked up.  (It was amazing to watch.)

And, by the time I had placed the hose at the base of the last okra plant (hours had passed), the sky showed promise of a better solution.

It wasn’t until late afternoon that rain arrived.  And, when it arrived it lingered long enough to break the dry spell.

The huge blob of red and yellow that I’d tracked all morning on radar slipped South of us.  That was okay. Sovereign God knew best where to send the rainfall…knew where it was needed most, and when.

And, God knew what I and the gardens needed most, and when, as well.

Sometimes all we can do is what we can do while we wait for God to act on our behalf.

The important thing to remember while we wait is to give thanks always for God’s many blessings.

Yes, there blessings even in dry spells.  There are always reasons to give thanks.  And, having a thankful heart provokes a can do attitude and a positive outlook on life.

And, a positive outlook on life changes everything.

Believe me, I went from parched to overflowing and nary a drop of rain had fallen.  From deep within a well of Living Water bubbled up and watered my withered soul, restored my faith in God, and renewed my spirit as it changed my attitude and outlook.

A Turn for the Worse

What I didn’t share in yesterday’s post is that as I finished planting the last row of okra I began to feel…funny.

You know…that funny little feeling that says something is not right within?  My heart began to pound and I became short of breath.  My head swam when I stood from squatting. I felt weak and shaky.

By the time I had watered the rows, I was seeing spots before my eyes and could barely speak from coughing and gasping for breath.  My voice became hoarser and I felt quite ill.

Thinking (more like hoping) that my problem was two fold (dehydration and low blood sugar), I grabbed an apple and sat down on the edge of the back porch.  Hubby joined me.

“Do you think you overdid today?” Hubby asked.

I shrugged, afraid of the answer.

“Are you feeling okay?” He asked.

I shook my head and croaked out, “I think my blood sugar dropped – this apple should help” as I bit into the apple again.

Hubby asked another question. “Did you get okra planted in your mom’s garden?”

I shook my head and gasped “tomorrow.”

My voice failed…barely more than a whisper.  My body wasn’t far behind.

The apple did little more than wet my throat and provide a little energy.

I took a quick inventory and as I checked off details I realized I’d taken a sudden and decided turn for the worse.  The improvement I’d felt all day had vanished. The invaders within me had gathered forces – the attach was underway once again.

My body rallied forces and went to war. My temperature climbed higher than it had before – a result of her attempt to defeat the foe.

One thing I learned from this is that when your body is ill, don’t add additional stress. Give it rest…a lot of rest.

What about the ever present ToDo list? Well, if you absolutely have to get ‘er done…go ahead and do it, just realize doing so may do you in.

And, you may find that recovery takes far longer than you thought or planned – all because you ignored your body’s needs, overdid and took a took a turn for the worse.

How am I today?

Well…let’s just say Mom’s okra is in the ground, I’m still fighting infection, my voice is gone and I’m facing Mother’s Day weekend as a sick chick.

Go me.

Go you and do otherwise.

Perfect Timing

I waited to plant my okra seeds.  Everything within me screamed to get them in the ground weeks ago, but I delayed – partly in deference to Mom and partly because of the weather forecasts.

Last weekend I prepared the okra row in the garden here at my house, intending to plant either Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon.  The forecast was for daytime temps in the upper 80’s and nighttime temps of mid 60’s.  Perfect okra planting weather!

Perfect timing.

As I dug the rows and broke up the dirt clods, I noticed I became short of breath and fatigued after only a brief time at work.  This was unusual for me and I attributed it to the pollen in the air…allergies no doubt.

Saturday night I began to feel within me that something wasn’t right.  And, by Sunday morning I had developed a nagging cough and a sore throat that suggested a reality I preferred to ignore.  The next few days would not see the level of productivity that I had intended.

With everything in me, I ignored the fact that my body was ill.  I pushed her and then Sunday night she pushed back.

Hard.

The plans I’d had for this week were squashed and lay waste.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being sick.  It’s a waste of time and energy…and this week (weather wise) was not one I wanted to see wasted!

Perfect timing – argh….

My To-Do list was large…long…involved.  And, ticking off each thing on the list would make life a bit easier as weather warmed and Spring progressed into Summer.

Planting okra…that needed to be done this week…NOW.  But, I barely felt like lifting my head from the pillow.  Everything within me screamed, “Get up, get busy, get it done!” And, my body said, “no.”

Monday evening, things took a turn.  My fever broke. The pain ceased. My heart stopped pounding in my chest…in my head…. I began to feel…better.

Perfect timing!

Yesterday morning I woke far earlier than I intended.  Hard and incessant coughing drove me from bed and into the kitchen where I brewed coffee then staggered onto the back porch where I attempted to clear my clogged lungs in the damp morning air.

And, then, with my full coffee cup in my hand, I surveyed the plans I’d had for this week and made a decision.

I grabbed my okra packets, slit the tops and poured the seeds into a bowl.  Into the bowl, I poured an inch of warm water.  By early evening, as shadows fell across that part of the garden, the seeds would be ready to plant.  It would be a simple task requiring little effort.  I was certain I could do it…even if it meant I worked on the final prep on the okra rows a few minutes at a time, scattered throughout the day.

I had a plan that would move me forward in accomplishing at least one of my goals for this week.

Today, as I type this, I rejoice that okra’s in the ground. Rain is forecast this weekend.

Perfect timing!

Of Green Beans and Okra

‘Tis the season for skeeters and fig-eaters, back-to-school sales and cheers from Moms.

Oh, and don’t forget green beans and okra!

Abundant rain and ample sun produced an amazing harvest of green beans and okra.  One day’s picking yielded 4 quarts of snapped beans and 2 of sliced okra for the freezer.

I knew green beans would need to be picked soon – it had been almost a week – but when I pulled back the leaves and looked at what hid beneath, I sucked air…and uttered a soft, “WOW! Thanks, God!”

Green beans are not my favorite veggie, but I’ll eat them.  Okra, however, is my fav, esp if it’s fried.  I love to keep it fried and frozen…and eat it like popcorn…by the handful.

Yum!

If all goes well and hail doesn’t rain down on it, or wind lay it low, we are just entering okra’s most productive season.  It’s just now head high and before a freeze kills it, will probably top out at 10 ft. That’s almost 5 more feet of potential okra pods per plant.

This is my first time ever to grow green beans.  I think a spot will be reserved in the garden for them next year, even if they aren’t my favorite veg.

Each day in the garden is like Easter all over…under every leaf lies a hidden treasure.

  • a tomato
  • a pod of okra
  • a squash
  • a cucumber
  • peas
  • a green bean
  • a watermelon
  • a flower
  • a butterfly
  • a stinkbug
  • ladybug

And, soon among those listed can be found brussel sprouts, broccoli and snow peas!

Whoo hoo!  Can’t wait!

My freezer’s empty (except for the few bags of goodies mentioned above) and my belly’s hungry for home grown goodness.

God has been gracious in growing a tremendous garden this year.  I’m amazed by the bounty He has provided.

Thank you, God, for this food.  Bless it, Father. May it nourish us and strengthen us and empower us to do Your work, in the name of Jesus.

The Knife

Knives and I don’t mix.

I have the scars on my hands to prove it.

Would you believe I once cut myself with a BUTTER KNIFE?

When my daughter (who was quite young at the time) learned of my boo boo and how it happened, she used the word “talented.”

I guess it does take something akin to talent to manage to cut oneself with a butter knife….

Or, just plain bad luck.

Rewind time about 8 years.  There I am in a Southwest Georgia okra field, 5 gallon bucket at my feet and a sharp paring knife in my right hand.  With my left hand I grip the okra and with the right I cut the okra from the stalk.

Halfway into filling my 5 gallon bucket, I slice into the side of my hand just below my little finger and the blood pours.

The remaining half of the bucket is filled with red spotted okra and when I carry the paring knife back to the farmer I’d borrowed it from, his wife notices the bloodied hand and the red drops falling onto her porch.

“What did you do…cut yourself?” she asks.

(If I had a dollar for every time someone has asked me that in my 55 years I could fill the car up with gas – several times.)

“Yes, Ma’am,” I say. What else is there to say?

She invites me inside to wash my hands, which I accept willingly, and offers to “doctor it” for me, which I graciously decline.  I assure her I have experience with knife cuts and have butterfly bandages, plenty of bandages and antibiotic ointment at home.

With a paper towel wrapped around my hand, I pick up my bucket of bloodied okra and head home.

Hubby takes one look at the bloody paper towel wrapped around my hand and asks (yep, you guessed it), “Did you cut yourself?”

Yes.

Daughter appears and asks, “What did you do, Momma? Did you cut yourself?”

I think it’s quite obvious what I’ve done and if it isn’t clear enough to them, I remove the bloody paper towel and show the bloody cut.

“How’d you do that?” Daughter asks.

“With a knife,” is my reply.

“But, how?” she asks.

I take a knife from the kitchen drawer and begin to pantomime the action that produced the cut hand.

Hubby grabs my right wrist and says, “I think we get the idea.”

Fast forward to 2013 and roll back four days.

A friend, who designated my nickname “The Knife” because of this event I’ve shared with you, surprised me with a gift.

It was a box about 18 inches long and several inches wide.  And, it was heavy.

The outside of the box said “Control the Wild” and “American Hunter.”

Curious, I removed the lid and glanced at my friend who was grinning a lopsided grin, eyes twinkling.

It was a knife.

Not just any knife.  It was an American Hunter Pig Sticker Bowie Knife.

Yes it was.

And, it was heavy –  2 lbs of steel blade and stag handle.

The blade alone measured 12 1/4 inches.

The length of blade and handle combined brought the knife to a whopping 17 inches.

When I think of the damage I did with a short paring knife (and don’t forget the butter knife) and look at what this Pig Sticker is capable of, I feel something akin to excitement course through my veins.

I think the word would be trepidation.

Where’s the knife now?

It’s in its leather belt sheath (which makes it even longer and heavier), tucked into my underwear drawer.

I want to keep it handy, but out of sight.  It’s not exactly something I want just lying around the house for a burglar to run across.

Why “handy”? And, why in my underwear drawer?  Well…what better place to keep it than someplace that I frequent?  You never know when I might need to trim my toenails, clean my fingernails, or slice a string from Hubby’s undershirt.

And, if someone breaks into our house at night, it’s within easy arm’s reach.  I’d sure pity the dude that ran up against a scared and angry Me with a Pig Sticker in hand.

Jim Bowie, I’m not.  Annie Oakley? No way.

I’m just me and I’ve proven time and again just how dangerous I am with any knife. 😉

** I suppose I should share Hubby’s, Daughter’s, and Mom’s reaction to the knife.

Hubby – eyes wide open – “What are you going to do with that? You know how you are with knives! Is that thing sharp? You’d better sheath it right now before you cut yourself…or someone. You’re not going to just leave it lying there are you?”

Daughter – eyes wide open – “Wow! That’s really a knife, isn’t it! You do know you aren’t allowed to hold sharp knives, don’t you? You do remember what’s happened in the past, don’t you? Is it sharp? Stop! Don’t run your thumb down the blade to find out! Where are you going to keep that thing? You’re going to hurt yourself if you don’t put it up.”

Mom – eyes even wider open – “You’d better put that back into the box, carefully.  It looks sharp. Look out, it will cut you! You don’t need to take that home with you.  I need to hide that somewhere here.  It scares me and it scares me even more to think of you having it. What are you going to do with it? Use it as a toothpick?  NO! Don’t even think of doing anything foolish with a knife, especially one that large. Put it away, right now.”

🙂  Knives are so much fun. 😉

Slow Down and Enjoy Life

My 85 year old mom loves to shell peas.

I enjoy it, too, but, see it as I see most tasks – something to finish so I can move on to the next item on my to-do list.

The garden yielded an amazing amount in the days following the heavy rains we received.  It seemed something needed to be picked every day as I scanned briefly for squash and okra, tomatoes and cucumbers.

The pink-eye purple hull peas were hanging heavy and turning a deep shade of purple – ripe for the picking.  Mom inquired of me, “When do you think we should pick peas?”

My reply was, “Whenever you want.”

Nothing else was said about it, so I headed into the garden to peek under leaves and pull aside plants as I searched for overlooked produce. It was like hunting Easter eggs.

As I stood in the middle of the garden with knife in hand and bucket at my feet, I heard Mom say, “I think it’s not a good idea for me to be in the garden picking peas.”

I looked up to find Mom tottering in the midst of the peas, her hands full of purple pods.

Quickly extricating myself from the squash plants and stepping between the okra, I dashed down a row, into the yard and around the garden to where Mom was standing waist deep in peas.

She said, “I didn’t give it much thought before stepping into the garden. But, once in the peas i realized it wasn’t a good idea to try moving around…I’m too unsteady on my feet as it is….”

Mom looked like she was 20 years younger.  Her hands were full of purple pods. Her cheeks were rosy. Her face was smiling.

I offered her the bucket and she placed her gathered peas into it.  The, I offered her a hand, which she took, and I pulled her from the garden.

As she stood on level, firmer ground, she picked up the bucket and pointed to the remaining purple pods.

“Today’s a good day to pick them,” she explained.  I nodded in agreement.

“I thought I could, but once in amongst them I realized it wasn’t a good idea…didn’t want to get my feet tangled and fall,” she continued.  Again, I nodded in agreement.

“Makes more sense for me to pick them and for you to hold the bucket,” I said.  She nodded in agreement.

Picking peas is back breaking work.  But, within 10 minutes we had our purple pods picked and our bucket full.

I watched her as she walked down the hill to the patio where she showed Daughter her harvest and settled at the picnic table to begin shelling them.

She called back over her shoulder, “I checked the cucumber vines and didn’t see any cucumbers.”

I squatted low and looked into the elevated vines.  There, among the vines and leaves hung not 1, but 18 cucumbers – all ready to be picked.  And, all 3 to 7 inches long.  WOW.

All told that day the garden yielded 2 yellow goose-neck squash, one zucchini squash, three ripe tomatoes (and 4 more showing color), 18 cucumbers, a bucket of peas, and half a bucket of okra.

As we sat at the picnic table, the peas scattered before us, Daughter said, “You know…next year we should make the garden larger!”

“WE??” I exclaimed.

Mom laughed.

Daughter said, “Well, I was just thinking that if it was twice the size it is now…think how many more peas we could have picked!”

Again I said, “WE??”

Without slowing down, I began to shell peas, quickly stripping the pods and plunking the peas into the bowl before me.  Daughter had a bowl and a pile of pods.  Mom had a bowl and pile of pods as well.  Mom appeared lost in thought, totally absorbed in her task. Daughter chatted merrily as she “peeled” the peas. (Her term, not mine.)

My thought was singular – get it done.

And, I did get it done.  Quickly.

Mom looked around and said, “We’re finished?  Already?”

“Yes!” I beamed.  “I work fast.”

“Oh, well…when I shell peas I enjoy it and like to take my time.  Are there really no more to shell?” Mom asked.

Daughter and I looked through the discarded hulls and I shook my head.

“Ah, well, maybe there will be more peas to pick in a few days,” Mom said.

Back into the garden I headed where I gleaned the peas for what I had missed.  I came up with two hands full of purple pods.  These I didn’t shell.

These I placed them before Mom and then sat across from her.  Her smile was huge – a real smile that came from deep within. She spoke as she shelled.  “I like to shell peas – always have.  Reminds me of good times – as a kid, with your dad, with grandchildren…I like to go slow and enjoy it.”

I learned an important lesson – about Mom and about myself.  Sometimes the joy of a job well done is found in the doing of it – not the completion of it.  I need to slow down and smell the roses I’m trimming…enjoy the scent of the peas I’m shelling….

The smile on Mom’s face as she shelled those peas will forever remain with me.  And, so will the lesson she taught me.

Cotton Britches Winter

From childhood I knew of Spring “winters” – knew the names, what to watch for and how to designate which “winter” we were having here in Middle Tennessee. (Different locations experience it at different times – 400 miles South of here cranks things forward a month, maybe more, and squeezes them tighter together, time-wise.)

In my neighborhood, two Spring “winters” preceded the “official” winters – Tulip Magnolia Winter (mid to late February/early March) and Pear Winter (early to mid March).  Our next door neighbor had a beautiful Tulip tree – every year, while it was in full bloom, a hard freeze would turn the beautiful pink blossoms brown. You could count on it.  Across the street, lived a tall pear tree. If it came into bloom, I wore my heavy jacket to school without complaint.

Redbud Winter is the first official Spring “winter” recognized by the locals. It’s a hard cold snap that happens when Redbud trees bloom (late March, early April).

Within a few days, the weather returns to Spring-like temperatures for a couple of weeks and then bottoms out again when Dogwood trees bloom – Dogwood Winter (early to mid April).

Locust Winter follows Dogwood and often brings a late frost (late April to early May).

And, then Blackberry Winter arrives before Locust trees have shed their racemes, bringing the last chance of frost and alerting gardeners that it’s safe to plant okra (early to mid May).

Four official Spring “winters:”

  1. Redbud
  2. Dogwood
  3. Locust
  4. Blackberry

Yesterday, I learned there are five.

A local news weather prognosticator said the 80+ degree temperatures we’ve enjoyed the past few days will give way to cooler temperatures after the cold front moves through. By cooler temperatures he meant highs in the lower 70’s during the day and 50’s at night. He declared it “Cotton Britches Winter.”

I’d heard of Linsey Woolsey Winter. Folks in Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky know that’s when it’s time to pack away your winter clothes and pull out your summer (mid to late May)

Perhaps “Cotton Britches Winter” means we can put on our light weight cotton britches and pack away the wool ones. 😉 Or, perhaps it means we thought Blackberry Winter was the last cool snap and we got caught with our cotton britches down.

In any event, let’s not forget about Whippoorwill Winter (late May, early June). Summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21.

Ready…Set…Grow!

Three days ago, I finished garden prep and planted seeds.

  • pink eye/purple hull peas (105)
  • zucchini squash (15)
  • goose-neck squash (15)

Twelve tomato plants had been placed in the garden three days prior.

Okra, remains to be planted and it will go into the ground before this week is out.  Cucumbers, too, await planting – an afterthought for my sister-in-law.

I hesitated to plant okra because it hesitates to sprout if the ground isn’t warm.  With cool temperatures (Locust Winter) forecast for Saturday and into Sunday, I felt it prudent to await the return of warmer weather.

Before planting, I debated the wisdom of doing so with heavy rain forecast Friday night through Sunday morning. Light to moderate rain would do little more than wet the garden and soak the seeds.  Heavy rain and amounts up to two/three inches would wash the seeds away – and perhaps the soil as well.

I decided to plant and risk the possibility of heavy rain arriving before I could return to cover the seeded portion of the garden with a large tarp.

The garden is a block away from my house, in Dad’s old gardening plot begun when my brother and I were barefoot and shirtless on warm Spring days.

Friday morning, before the wind rose and the sky darkened, I headed down the hill, through the gate and into the backyard that holds so many fond memories for me.  The huge tarp was waiting for me in Dad’s shed.

The seeded portion of the garden was gently watered, then covered with the tarp weighted down with blocks and bricks to keep it from blowing away during the wind, rain and storms.

Sunday afternoon, Hubby helped me remove the heavy, wet tarp.  Light rain continued to fall throughout the day – just what that part of the garden needed.

From planting to first harvest averages around 60 days for the vegetables planted May 2.  Planting season here is a lot later than it was when we lived 400 miles South of here.  By now, plants would be up and maturing with harvest around the first week of June.

But, not here.

60 days takes me to the first week of July – just in time for our Fourth of July cookout.

Nice!

Maybe our first tomatoes will come in about that time, too!

Fresh home-grown tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, grilled squash…yum!  And, perhaps we will have a few pods of okra to toss onto the grill, too!

The Garden – in the Beginning

This past week I began a personal relationship with the yard tools in my dad’s shed.

With April in full swing, I knew it was time to dig up Dad’s garden plot if we were going to enjoy fresh-picked, sun-warmed, home-grown veggies this summer.

Last Spring, Son tilled Dad’s garden, but Dad’s health declined quickly and he wasn’t able to prepare it for planting.

Mom loves home-grown tomatoes and I enjoy gardening.  The two of us put our heads together and decided it would be good to have a garden this year: tomatoes, okra, gooseneck squash, zucchinibroccoli, brussels sprouts….

The ground stayed too wet to work for several weeks.  And, then last week we had light rainfall and then several days of warm, sunny weather – perfect for digging the garden.

Dad’s old garden tiller is in his shed – in the same spot Son placed it last Spring after tilling the garden plot.  I looked it over, attempted to move it and decided quickly that I was not interested in using it.

My brother’s Honda lawn mower, the kind that pulls itself, gave me enough of a work out last Saturday when I cut Mom’s lawn.  I could only imagine what the tiller would do to me.

If I didn’t use the tiller, how would I break up the soil?

Grass had grown thick over the plot and it would be like starting over.  I wasn’t crazy about using a spade to dig it out…dig it up…break it up.  But, I would if necessary.

I stood in Dad’s shed and looked around.  Hanging from rusty nails was a selection of gardening tools.  All clean…not a speck of dirt on them.  Dad took care of his tools.

What would Daddy do?  How had he broken up the garden before he bought the tiller?

Memories came and I smiled as I selected a garden fork and a hoe, then headed across the yard.

Mom, curious about my undertaking had a front row seat on the patio and sat rocking, watching me.

Her next door neighbor noticed the activity in her backyard and dropped by to comment and share memories with her (bags of fresh tomatoes waiting for them when they got home from work) and hopes for this year’s garden (bags of fresh tomatoes waiting for them…freshly made salsa, sliced tomatoes on perfectly cooked burgers…).

Breaking up soil is hard work.  I’ll spare you the details. If you’ve never taken a garden fork in hand and used it to break up sod, I encourage you to do so.  There’s ample opportunity in the task to learn – about the soil…about yourself.

It took me two afternoons to prepare the garden – just in time for the rain on Thursday.  Hubby and I spread a tarp over the fresh dirt so it wouldn’t wash or be too wet for me to work and plant this week. (Broccoli and brussels sprouts should have been in the ground by the end of March.)

Breaking up the sod and getting the ground ready is just the first step toward eating home-grown produce.  It’s also the hardest.  And, that chore is now behind me.  Next I will smooth the soil and create rows.  Then I will plant.

And, then Mom and I will count the days (seeds take X days to germinate) and watch for signs of the soil cracking open as seeds come to life and reach for the sun.

That’s when the real work begins – and the fun starts.