The smell of tomatoes garnet bubbling into sauce thick. Corn silks clinging to my skin. The snap of crisp beans emerald. The ping, ping, ping of magenta and white striped horticulture beans tumbling from pod to bowl... the speckled gray-green mel-mac bowl even a little girl's fumbles couldn't break.
Summer in our house meant harvest. Crocks were filled with cucumbers pickling, and canning jars bobbed in steel pots billowing with steam, weighing heavy on every stove burner. The kitchen grew hot and humid before morning gave way to the high noon sun. My mom would tie an apron about my waist... my sister's... her own. Dad laced up muddy boots and set to tending rows.
Our garden was more like a field. The scent of dill floated on country air above beans of every sort, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, cucumbers, carrots, strawberries, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, radishes, rhubarb. Row after row of bountiful color swelled full as summer waned... the yield of which would feed our family the year through. Family meat was stocked at the locker and the milkman delivered milk, juice and eggs to the door. (Yep, I'm old.)
These days, the boys and I begin talking plants the day after Christmas. Gardening catalogs from old seed companies come out like spring's wish book. Our little garden is always simple, but no matter how humble our harvest, it's tradition.
Toss off all pretense and grab a shovel, because
...this girl still plays in dirt!