Monday, March 11, 2013

My {Southern} Roots

In order to celebrate this beautiful spring weather, we spent our Saturday harvesting winter crops and tilling up a plot of land in our yard.  I have to admit, it was hesitantly that I first started the project, but I was so glad I had.

Growing plants from seed, and my husband's
greenhouse contraption.
First, a little background.  We have a good-sized back yard.  Not quite an acre lot, but plenty of space for a garden.  We have planted tomatoes, squash, cucumber, turnips, collards, and broccoli so far since we moved in right about a year ago.  When we were house hunting, the back yard had to be somewhat private (ours drops off at a steep grade at the back of our lot) and it had to be big enough that we (meaning the hubs mostly) could plant a garden.  Anyway, last summer, we planted everything from Lowe's pre-started plants, but this winter, we planted from seeds that were ordered from back home in South Carolina at Park Seed.  This summer, we're extending our garden and we even brought in a tiller that was rented over the weekend.  The hubs has all kinds of things started on disks specifically made for just that - starting seeds.  He's got the basics like okra, bell peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini to more exotic eggplant, ground cherries, asparagus, and edamame - a favorite of mine.  They're all in disposable casserole dishes in our guest room under bright lights.  He thought long and hard about what to order, even making a spreadsheet of the plants and what varieties he'd get.  And I swear some nights when he was dreaming of this jumbo garden he was going to start from seed, I wondered if I would ever get him back!  It seemed he was spending all his time for this darn garden.

All of that being said, the day had come for us to get rid of the old and start with the new.  And since it was a beautiful day, I figured I'd join the hubs outside with this dream project.  Our sweet doll baby slept most of the time in his stroller while we worked the land with the help of a hefty blue tiller.  As I watched my husband break up that soil, and as I took in the aroma of fresh dirt (I really love that smell, by the way), it took me back.  I got to thinking about my heritage and how my Big Pa always kept a garden, year-round.  And how his big hands were always callused.  I thought about how we were made to "work the land."  And that it was God's blessing to us.  I thought about what good exercise it was turning the soil and picking weeds and hoeing the ground.  And how it didn't seem like exercise at all, because it was all with a purpose.  I felt proud to have muddy feet and muddy hands.  I could almost taste my Mema's fresh pepper cream corn.  (Mema's main ingredient in everything she cooks is pepper; she even puts pepper in her mac and cheese!)  ...And then I thought of how some might think we are hippies, when really what we are is southern.  
A barn at my Big Pa's farm in Clinton, SC
For hundreds of years, our families have gotten outside and enjoyed nature.  They've worked to eat, not just to stay fit.  They raised cattle, pigs, and chickens.  And they learned, at an early age, the sense of good, hard work.  Something I feel we, as southerners, as Americans, are losing.  We want it here and now.  And I have to admit, when Google Chrome doesn't load instantly my heart seems to skip a beat with impatience.  But there's just something about gardening that brings it all back to the basics of life... back to the good ole days when hard work paid off.  

I hope to bring that back, or rather join my husband in bringing that back to my family.  I want our son to know the value of hard work and that vegetables don't come from the freezer, or from the produce section of the grocery store, but from the land and from hard work.

And maybe, just maybe as these fragile little plants reach their roots down deep into this freshly tilled soil in our back yard, maybe my roots will grow a little deeper too.

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