We are in the process of redoing my mother-in-laws front, back and side yards. And there is a ton of work to do, after years of neglect due to age and health, Royce and I have tackled something we may not be prepared to do. But, we’re totally committed so new fences to new grass and plants are going in over three growing seasons. There is so much to do it will take that long! This year is the first season of our renovations for her. We are beginning by focusing on the lawn. In the Texas panhandle this is a tall order, apparently, especially when her old lawn has laid dormant for nearly ten years. The only spot to show any old growth after a month of watering is this small patch in the middle of the back yard. We are still waiting for the grass seed to sprout (fingers crossed it does — we’ve had more than the average amount of sand storms this season so our neighbors just may be the proud recipient of a new lawn!) This morning Royce mowed this one little patch of grass and this afternoon an extremely plump bunny settled in and feasted on the clippings. I think I’d best put a fence around the newly planted garden!
Yes, folks that is red clay and sand in them there rows! But we have corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, sweet basil, peppers, okra, red onions and even some flowers here and there.
I’m also putting in a few flower/hardscaps beds in around her long front porch and upgrading some furniture she has out there. Early mornings and late afternoons, Royce and I love setting on her front porch and watching all the birds and rabbits — that our dog Spike chases out of the yard — enjoying each others company and the ever present Texas plains breeze.
Yes, that is an earth worm being held in the hand of my granddaughter Hannah Grace, age 4 while her cousin Destiny, age 5 looks on. If you look closely each girl is relaxed and ”in the moment” as they discover how it feels to hold the earth worm. Destiny’s mother Rebecca is telling them all about the earth worms habitat and habits and how important they are to our garden soil and, well, that they must keep them safe and not destroy them.
As I looked on I was drawn back in time to more than sixty years ago —
The Summer of 1949 was extremely hot. The red clay soil was so dry it had turned to a fine powder. It felt like silk between my toes and after mid morning became too hot to walk on without shoes. I remember this because I remember that I walked with my grandmother Nannie to a nearby neighbor’s farm to swap her freshly made butter for jam and on the way back I wore my shoes. All I need do — all these years later — is close my eyes and drift back in time to feel the powdered clay pushing up between my toes and smell the aroma of the pastures on my grandparents farm. This is something that has never left me.
In a way it is the roots that have grounded me all my years. I know the peoples I belong to, what I am part of. The history. The family. My family.
Lately I have found myself revisiting a time very few of my friends can equate to because they did not live it. They did not live in rural America, did not know the feel of the hide, the stench of a wet barn nor the sweetness of that same barn after being freshly laid with clean straw. They did not swing from rafters and they certainly never tipped a cow.
I wish more than life itself my grandchildren could experience what I experienced as a child or at least when I tell them of my life they would completely understand it. But I fear the stories are too removed from what their lives consist of today for them to fully appreciate how wonderful it was all those years ago. At times they look at me in wonderment when I tell them of my grandparents farm. I’m completely convinced they think I’m making up stories for their entertainment.
When they are elder — sixty years hence — will their grandchildren understand how it felt for them to hold an earth worm? How then can I expect them to know how it felt for fine silken soil to filter through my toes. But I want to keep trying to explain all the things that were so wonderful when I was their age so at each and every opportunity I become an impromptu performer and charm them with my stories.