Last week found me traveling to visit some dear friends living in Idaho. The perfect weather enabled me to soak in the vast open landscapes found in eastern Oregon. As I drove through little farming towns along the way, I noted the flag of our country flying from almost every home. It brought an assurance that the hard working folks in these regions stand for the heart of this country.
As I crossed the state line into Idaho, there was a shift in farming practices. There was a mystery afoot as I saw crops “going to seed” filling the large tracks of land. Why did they not harvest much sooner? It seems this area of Idaho is known to produce vegetables for the very vegetable seeds we purchase for our own gardens!
My friends, Ken and Peg, live in the heart of this region. It was not a surprise to see their lovely landscaping as I approached their home. It didn’t take long to walk along garden paths in the back yard. Everything was lush and green. Birds flitted to the feeders along with the resident squirrel. The trickling water from the recycled water fountain gave a sense of peace to the area. I was overwhelmed at approach to their vegetable garden and the size of their crops. Each cabbage plant appeared to take up ten square feet. Tomato plants towered over my head supported by steel stakes and heavy wire due to the weight and abundance of fruit not quite ready for picking.
There was one plant that particularly captured my attention. I had never grown or encountered it before – gooseberries! In fact it was gooseberry picking that started off our 4th of July activities! Two of the three plants produced hundreds of tiny green round berries about the size of my blueberries. However, the third gooseberry plant was covered in a dull rusty green covered fruit taking on the size of green Thompson grapes. They tasted a bit sweeter than their counterpart and it didn’t take long for the three of us to fill a huge bowl with its treasured fruit.
After picking the fruit, we sat around the patio table and chatted about life as we discarded any stems that clung to the berries. We reminisced of spending time as children with our grandmothers shelling peas and string beans with them. Memories flowed freely and it gave pause to thought that it seems this shared activity is lost to our current generation. The convenience of prepackaged vegetables already picked and cleaned removes the element of memory building with family.
I pondered this concept of garden memories of yesteryear and the loss of such activities today. The more we worked on the berries the moments became precious as the three of us sat around the table sharing past garden memories, laughing of stories and mischief we experienced growing up. The gift of those recreated moments only took our time and an awesome gooseberry plant to create!
It is amazing what joy comes from gardening. Childhood memories are never lost to gardening experiences. Just ask my two children about composting or the outcome of finding cooked aphids on homegrown artichokes! Plant a garden and let the memories begin!
Belated Happy 4th of July!