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Monday, July 1, 2013

In My Mother’s Garden, or Late June, Middle America

I can feel the sun in my hair.  I reach up.

Warm hair feels like summer. 

We are walking through the gated garden off to one side of the house.  I tease her about the kind of vegetables that require a gated enclosure.  She suggests to me that the local woodchucks are thieves.

“Oooh, look at this, Pearl.  Just look at this broccoli!”  My mother shakes her head in wonder.  “It was half this size yesterday.” 

The broccoli in question reaches greenly toward the bright blue sky of a Minnesota summer.  A barn swallow swoops in, lands on a nearby shed to keep a beady eye on us. 

I look down at my sandals, my purple-painted toenails, think about the four feet of snow that was at this very spot just three months ago.

I move on to the next row of plants.  “Green beans?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says, but she is not looking at me.  She is bent over the strawberry beds. 

My father wanders on to the scene, grins at me.  “You two looking at the plants?  Mumma, you showing Pearl the garden?”

He states the obvious just to get a rise out of her, and she obligingly takes the bait.  Married just a few months short of 50 years, on a good day their banter is the stuff of a stand-up comedy routine.

She looks up, squints into the sun.  “Paul, so help me –”

She turns her attention back to the plants, gently palms a large strawberry, pale green on one end, red shading into pink on the other.

“Isn’t she a beauty?”

Funny Face wanders into the garden.  A known mouser, a tortoiseshell cat with the demeanor of one who is well loved, she smiles at my mother and flops onto one side.

Even the cat loves summer.

I smile.  “How big would you say that strawberry is, Mom?”

My mother, the woman who once described a rusty nail that had been driven up into my brother’s foot as “a strange way to get a new pair of shoes”, grins up at me. 

“Oh,” she says, “I’d say that’s a good ‘un.”

A good ‘un.


Describes a lot.  

35 comments:

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! I loved this, wonderfully evocative. Particularly liked the kitteh :) First person present, too, like other awesome bloggers ;) Roth x

Shelly said...

You, your mom, your dad? Good 'uns.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
...all that was missing was the buzz of the beezzzzzzzzz...........

Lazy hazy dayz are the stuff of soothing posts. Thank you! &*>

Simply Suthern said...

As I get older I love to show off my garden. Something about it is soothing regardless that 24 hours earlier I was dripping sweat and getting skeeter bit while pulling weeds.

We got our first mess of green beans this weekend. Two Banana peppers and 2 yellow squash topped off the bucket.

I think I'd love to lean against the fence and chat with your parents about gardening and maybe about whats got into that girl of theirs.

Pearl said...

Thank you, Indigo. :-)

Shelly, there's a BUNCH of good 'uns around here... :-)

Yam, makes one want to work hard in the morning and take a nap in the heat of the day...

Simply, they're good people. :-)

Daisy said...

Now we know where you got your marvelous wit and imagination from! Love your mom and dad too!

I go into my garden very early, before it gets hot, and enjoy the broccoli, kale, peas, tomato growing there. What a miracle!

Geo. said...

Pearl, this has the feel of a gentle libretto. I'm reminded of the Flower Duet in Delibes' "Lakme". Brava.

Sioux said...

I wonder what kind of story you could tell if Funny Face hosted a garden party and invited your two kitties...

Joanne Noragon said...

I've noticed that is an exact size in Wisconsin, so it must be also in Minnesota. Good 'un = right. As in the right size, also a finite measurement.

jenny_o said...

What a lovely dreamy feel to this post, Pearlie. It's definitely a good 'un ... warm summer hair - you're exactly right.

And just for the record, all wildlife are thieves, but they're so cute while they're doing it.

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Lovely! I was right there with you.

vanilla said...

I daresay your parents and the garden are good uns, too.

sage said...

The next time your brother has a rusty nail, you should bring him a second one (Scotch and Drambuie). A few of those is bound to make the literal rusty nail a wee bit more tolerable.

Pearl said...

Geo, I love when you say things like that.

Sioux, Funny Face reminds me very much of Liza Bean Bitey (of the Minneapolis Biteys). Which reminds me, has anyone seen my date book? When I put it back in my purse, the cat had just entered the room, and I -- ohhhhhhh. Answered my own question...

Joanne, "good 'un", I think, implies a generous amount, but not ostentatiously so. :-)

jenny_o, oh, you're right about wildlife/thieves. :-) Wish I'd thought of that.

Blissed-Out, my mother would've shown you the strawberry, had you actually been there. :-)

vanilla, they are, and it is. (Thank you!)

sage, ha! Had forgotten all about the Rusty Nail!

Z said...

That is lovely. Your mom could show me her vegetable garden any time and we'd completely understand each other.

Kana said...

Let's have that characterization start applying to the female keister, what say you, ladies???

Elephant's Child said...

Oooh. A post like this makes me (almost) miss summer. And I would love to wander through that garden with you, your parents - and Funny Face.

Pat Tillett said...

One of my favorites Pearl...
Loved the feel of it. It was like I was right there, feeling the sun and watching the back and forth.
Great writing!

bill lisleman said...

strange way to get a new pair of shoes - that can't be beat.
Enjoyed the story. Thanks for sharing the memory.

Leenie said...

I'm not sure old guys go around stating the obvious to get a rise out of people. My guy does it almost every time there is something to mention just cause he can. So help me I wanna choke him.

But mom's garden after a long winter is just magic. Thanks.

jenny_o said...

Pearl, as much as I'd like to take credit for the wildlife as thieves notion, I have to point out that you DID think of it - see last line in paragraph 3

:) :) :)

I wish *I* had thought of it first!

jenny_o said...

P. S. Happy Canada Day, you honorary Canadian, you :)

HermanTurnip said...

Endearing. Quaint. An amazing snapshot of a couple extraordinary people. Honestly, this post brought a smile to my face. Thank you!

jeanie said...

Ha - I read my daily Pearl post because I always read my daily Pearl post - and had to laugh because all the other blogs I am reading today are garden ones!!

tiffany rose said...

Love this, good 'un.

joeh said...

you just have to like any one that says good'un

Tez said...

This post brought a smile to my face and a nostalgic tear to my eye. The description of your parent's garden and your mum's relationship to all things growing made me feel so cheery. It reminded me of my mum and her love of the earth and growing things. I miss her still, even after 37 years. So glad for you that you still enjoy the lazy days of summer with your folks. :-)

Elizabeth Rose Stanton said...

Love this. Funny, quiet, and sweet--right down to the warm cat :)

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Thank you for bringing a smile to my face

River said...

It's amazing. From four feet of snow, to rows of fast growing edibles. I'd like to see your mum's garden.
I remember my mum's garden when I was little, with the rows of carrots interspersed with radishes, because they would be ready to pull first, so leaving room for the carrots to mature. None of us ate radishes, so they neighbours would accept them.

the walking man said...

Kind of amazing all the things you un's can make grow in a 6 week summer!

Eva Gallant said...

fresh strawberries! the nectar of heaven!

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Sunshine, a ripe strawberry, mom and dad and a cat....good 'un.

Daisy said...

Sweet post. This brought back memories of my own parents working in our garden when I was growing up. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I can smell the dirt and the tomato leaves.