Saturday, May 9, 2009
Lesson #3: Love the Earth
Saturday was chore day in my family, and chores usually included something that got us outside for several hours at a time. Mom was a huge gardener coming from a long line of farmers. The smell of fresh turned earth was like chocolate to her. Every spring she would be outside doing something as soon as the snow had melted enough for those little shoots to come bursting through the soil.
Everywhere we lived Mom had a garden, and we're not talking a little fifteen by twenty foot plot of land. That was about all the space she could afford in our small California yard, but in Washington, where we had vast fields to roam, we had a plot as big as our house devoted to her vegetables and we still went and gleaned the fields of asparagus after the workers were done. In Oklahoma she had to learn how to garden all over again as the combination of heat and clay baked our tomatoes and made it nearly impossible to get carrots out of the ground, and yet despite that, we had not one garden, but two. One for all the above ground vegetables and another field just for varieties of potato. In Bountiful, Utah she moved the fence line for the garden up so that a quarter of our half acre plot was taken up by her beloved garden. Until then the entire fence had been covered by gorgous flowers. It broke my heart when Mom began uprooting them but when I complained her answer was, "we can't eat the flowers."
The last six years of Mom's life she lived with my family and we knew from the beginning to plan for a large garden. We were blessed to get one of the biggest plots of land in our neighborhood and Mom devoted probably a third of our back yard to gardening. Even when her knees hurt so bad they would bring her to tears, she would put on her knee brace and go out to rototill. I told her to wait and let me do that for her, to save her energy for the things I didn't know how to do. She would nod her head and say okay, and then as soon as I left to run errands she'd get out the rototiller and do it herself. It was her passion.
She once told me that she felt about gardening the way I felt about writing books, and that was when I finally understood and gave her the freedom to follow her heart. I let her play in the dirt to her heart's content and she couldn't have been happier, despite the limitations her body tried to place on her.
As a result of her example, I not only plant gardens wherever I live, I have learned to love and appreciate our beautiful earth in all its glory. Mom and I admired many a sunset together and have often pulled off the road during a trip just to admire some little bit of art God created in his mountains or sandstone cliffs.
"The Lord must be the greatest artist of all, creating this world for us. We owe it to Him to use it and treat it with respect."