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We’ve been traveling alot lately. First we went to Eugene to visit family and escape the horrific smoke that filled our valley from all the wildfires. We returned to find the smoke was still bad, so we rented a house on the Oregon Coast with some friends for a week. Home for just a few days before we were off to New York to visit family and exhibit at the NY Now tradeshow in the city. We are again home for a week before the annual Mete Family adventure to Sunriver.
No matter where we are though, home or traveling, one thing always stands consistent. The harder we play before bed, the better the kids sleep. Tonight we went to the neighborhood school playground, and literally ran up and down the field (red light, green light) before moving on to the play-structure. We pack healthy snacks (sliced cucumber from the garden, ham, cashews, veggie pouches, and fruit leather) to help keep them fueled and in good spirits.
Nearly two hours of nonstop play before walking home. Kids are sound asleep in bed. I think I shall join them.
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.