Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lessons I learned from my dad......

I always look forward to Spring and I watch and wait patiently for all the signs....the first peepers calling as they make their way out of the cold and semi-frozen mud, the multitudes of Robins gathering in the yard looking for those first worms, the lilac bush beginning to bud, and the red bud tree turning pink. The dogwoods are just now beginning to open and the yard is finally turning green and ready to mow! We've got new baby chicks in the "warmer" on the back porch, the wild turkey's are making their way into the lower field, and the young deer have been spotted at the feeder...yep, I do believe Spring has finally arrived!

I could wait no longer last weekend to get out in the garden and start the annual planting; along with that first mowing, working the garden has to be about one of my favorite things to do around here! I always try to rush it and you'd think by now I'd know better, but as soon as that first warm day shows up I'm ready. I did get the peas and lettuce in early and they are up and growing even after the hard frost we had a week later, but it's those tomatoes I really look forward to getting into the ground and thoughts of fresh, sliced, garden tomatoes haunt my dreams on every warm day we manage to get!!

While Mom did garden and loved to work in the dirt, I really think her love of dirt tended more toward growing flowers and things to "pretty up" the yard. My dad, on the other hand, was a "survivalist" and he'd grow anything and everything he could get his hands on that pertained to food. Tomatoes, potatoes, and corn were the priorities on his list, everything else after that was just extras! He done a fair job at growing most all of it and from as far back as I can remember he'd pass along tips to me. Being the last one at home, I think I got more instruction from our Dad than the rest of my siblings, or maybe I was the only one who paid attention, because none of the others seemed to recall many of those lessons in life!! ;) Either way, there are many things I still recall today as I go to plant my own garden. In his latter years, his health kept him from doing too much, but he still wanted a garden, so it was up to the hubs and I to plow it, disc it, till it, and plant it...all the while my dad would set on an orange milk crate handing out the orders. Just like a drill sergeant, he'd tell me how to keep that tractor straight, mark those rows off just right, and plant those seeds exactly so far apart. In between all that "barking of orders" though, he'd also let slip a compliment now and then, which is what kept me planting and not walking off the job! ;) To give him credit, he didn't just always bark orders, although that was his mainstay of doing things, he did "explain" in between times WHY it should be done this way or that and it was those things I paid the closest attention to!

My dad was a hard man to please in many ways, although looking back, I don't think it was his intention to always find something wrong with what you did...he just wanted to make sure you did it right so as not to have to do it over. And I really do think he wanted to pass along what he had learned himself...he just wouldn't always be called the best of teachers! Although my mother claimed I inherited many of my dad's "characteristics" (most of which she wasn't too pleased with!), I must have also inherited my mother's patience and resilience when working with the man, because it's many of those same things I still use and apply today. I never really knew just why he worked so hard at having the first ripe tomato by the 4th of July, I just recall he always did and so, now I find myself watching my vines; waiting and hoping to accomplish that same feat. I have managed to accomplish this a time or two and I have to say I always feel like my dad is somewhere smiling when it happens! I recall him always saying to me, "Now pay attention Putt (yes, that was my nickname, right up to the day he passed away!), because I'm not always going to be around to show you how it's done...", and I think he'd be happy to know I did in fact, "pay attention"!!

I may be pushing it, but most of my garden is planted now and I'll be watching it carefully through the production. We no longer put out one that requires a tractor to plow it (thankfully!), but it's big enough for me to enjoy and reap the rewards from! Once again I'll be checking those tomatoes as they put on and start to turn and counting those days until the 4th of July and if I'm lucky....I'll not only be eating fresh ones on the 4th, but maybe a few beforehand!! Because another lesson I learned from my dad?! Always try to beat the other feller at his own game!! ;)


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