I love to be in the garden, from the first pale green sprouts in the spring all the way through their promise of flower, color, fruit or seed. I think I have loved the idea of "garden" always, and I know that comes to me through my genes and from my childhood environment. So many of my memories of home center around gardening or preserving the food from those gardens or watching the changing color-scapes of the flowers as the summer progressed.
My clearest memories of my maternal grandfather are of him in the garden and of an afternoon he killed a garter snake there with his hoe. My dad's father, Grandpa Oscar, had a garden in his backyard, too. I remember my uncles helping him grind the horseradish that grew there and the strong smelling jars of the white pulp that were shared with all.
I still cannot eat sweet corn without thinking of Mom and Aunt Bonnie cooking, cutting and freezing dozens of ears of corn each summer. Or as kids, helping to pick up potatoes from the freshly dug rows of potato plants in the extended family garden. Enough potatoes to last until the next year's crop was almost ready to harvest, if we were lucky. I can hear the ping of canning lids sealing as the jars of tomato juice cooled on the kitchen counter. And I won first place at the Burt County Fair with my Celosia flower that I raised in my own little corner of my Dad's vegetable garden.
A couple weeks ago Patrick and I were in Nebraska with my folks and he took these pictures of my 81 year old father and me in the garden. We were picking asparagus from the patch that has been there for as long as I can remember and Dad was showing me all the plants in his "downsized" garden this year. The asparagus was amazing. But I will treasure these pictures always as this is where I come from and this man is the gardener in me.