That’s because his father was a county extension agent and had an acre-sized garden. He had to help out in the garden in the afternoons and on Saturdays. He said he hated it. He couldn’t imagine ever having one of his own. But now he does, and when he works in his garden, he thinks of his father, who died three years ago.
He used the story to illustrate a point in his sermon. I don’t really know what the point was, something about tending God’s garden on Earth, I think. By that time, though, I had gotten off track, thinking about my own father and his big summer garden.
Like the preacher, I never understood while I was growing up why my father would want to plant nearly a half-acre garden when we could get all the fruits and vegetables we needed at the grocery store.
But plant he did. And before that, he would till the garden by hand with a spade. He didn’t have one of today’s gentlemen-farmer garden tractors or tillers. He would be out there most days until dark, after coming home from his day job.
He didn’t just stick to lettuce, peas, green beans and tomatoes, either. He had rows of sweet corn, grapevines, a large strawberry bed, and raspberry and blackberry patches.
My father took his gardening seriously, putting up posts about five feet tall and covering the whole berry-growing area with chicken wire to keep the birds from nibbling on the berries. Of course, it also kept us from standing up in the berry patch. The choices were to bend over or squat when we picked the fruit. I can’t remember which was the most unpleasant.
I told my father that when I grew up, I would never have a garden. He thought I would come around, but I haven’t. Oh, I tried to grow tomatoes a few times, but it’s a talent I apparently don’t have. And there’s always a good supply at the Glenfield market.
But what makes me feel even worse is that I can’t even take care of our yard and the few flower beds we’ve planted there. When we drove into the driveway Sunday after church, I was struck by how unkempt our yard looks. The shrubs need trimming and the front flower beds need weeding. The roses in the back are fine if you overlook the grass that has taken over their beds.
“Maybe we should live in a condo,” I thought out loud.
Jenny gave me that look.
A couple days of hard work ought to clear my head. Ugh, I thought. I don’t like gardening any better now than when I was a kid.
T. Wayne Mitchell, Gazette publisher, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.