Dirt is under our fingernails.
We’ve been having dinner picnics nearly every night. Then we play and dig, and breathe in the fresh blossom scented air until it’s time to jump in the bath and relax for the night.
Life is good.
Summer is only complete when I’ve had sufficient quantities of corn on the cob, watermelon, berry crumble, and peaches. (This is only my edible list…and really, it has a few more items than listed, like endless amounts of blackberries freshly picked and directly consumed.) Last summer went by and I realized I had missed farm-stand peaches. Sure I could still purchase peaches at the local co-op, but the peaches you buy direct from the farmer at the side of the road, those are true summer peaches. They include more than just peachy-flavor, they include experience and connection.
As a little girl in Southern California, my parents each year would help me plant my own patch of cherry tomatoes and strawberries. My biggest childhood memories, though, are from exploring magical lands (aka grandparents’ gardens).
In England, Granddad had two gardens. A smaller garden, tucked behind the shed, overflowed with cabbages, greens, and beautiful flowers. His bigger garden,”the plot”, he would bike to. He’d return before meal time smelling like a musty garden gnome and Nana would prepare an overflowing plate of vegetables with a side of meat for dinner (the midday meal). Granddad never invited me to garden with him. I simply explored by myself and enjoyed the harvest through Nana’s simple cooking.
The experience with my Italian grandparents, was much different. While Granddad’s garden in England intrigued me, my Italian grandparents taught me not just how to garden, but the beauty of where food comes from and the ways of processing it to share with family and friends all year round.
Grandma and Grandpa had a very large garden in their backyard and I got to help from start to finish. Watering the gigantic zucchini plants (or so they seemed from my eight year old eyes), harvesting green beans and prepping them for dinner with Grandma, collecting peaches from Grandma on her ladder to take inside for canning, and figs…oh warm, delicious, burst-in-your-mouth-figs. Every vegetable, every piece of fruit was enjoyed….all year long! Grandma would pack zucchini frittata for picnics, make green beans in sauce for dinner with pasta, canned peaches/pickles/cherries/galore.
I suppose my point is that, from an early age gardening has always been a love. It’s where I feel my calmest, most grounded self. This year in particular, I have noticed a great parallel between my garden space and my soul. Perhaps it sounds cliche. I just can’t help it. Last year my garden was neglected. A new baby in the family, a healing body…gardening didn’t happen. Which meant that this year, I had to totally start from scratch. This is not easy with two small children. My dad (always my knight in shining armor), got the ground started for me (with my Grandpa’s old rototiller, which should have been its own blog post!). And from there I was left with a blank slate…and a feeling of being overwhelmed. “One bed at a time” became my mantra. It’s still my mantra, as weeds multiply over night and the squash bugs come to attack. I can become overwhelmed and angry that I’m the only one tending the space…but then I remember that it IS my space, my creation. And much like myself, I cannot expect anyone to care for it more than I care for it myself. Ah yes, the constant reminder, my soul sings to me yet again, remember to care for yourself. So I step into the garden and we care for eachother.
This summer we had our first big garden in a long time. And perhaps I got carried away planting certain things…one of which was zucchini. I couldn’t help it. I have such fantastic memories of walking around my grandparent’s garden. Their zucchini plants towering around me as I walked the rows. I had to recreate the magic within our garden. And so, this summer our family has enjoyed zucchini everyday, everyway.
- Zucchini Pancakes
- Zucchini Bread
- Quiche with Zucchini
- Torte de Courge
- Stuffed Zucchini
- Grilled Zucchini
- Zucchini Frittata
- Zucchini Relish
- Cous Cous Salad with Roasted Zucchini
… the list goes on.
While at an outdoor wedding this weekend, Ella found her “happy spot” in the dirt! This reminded me of how much I loved playing outside as a child…and how few children I see these days out in their front yards.
Five great reasons for kids to go outside and get dirty! – brought to us by www.simplemom.net
1. There are types of bacteria that are naturally found in soil which activate the neurons that produce serotonin – a key chemical in many bodily functions, as well as a natural anti-depressant. In other words, dirt can actually help make you feel happy.
2. Dirt is also great for the immune system, especially in children. Research has shown that early exposure to the naturally occurring microbes in soil will help build stronger, more disease-resistant kiddos.
3. In our technologically savvy generation, kids just aren’t getting enough time to play outside, and that has now been linked to attention disorders, depression (yes, in children), and obesity.
4. Children who play outside laugh more, which means they’re happy! It also means their blood pressure and stress levels are lower.
5. Kids who play outside grow in their character development: they become more adventurous, more self-motivated, and they are better able to understand and assess risk.