Grandpa always had a garden. When I was a small child, he and many of my aunts and uncles had a very large plot in a community garden. We went to the garden often and watched as Grandpa taught his posterity. He lovingly weeded, pruned, watered, and dug. Gardening was a part of his soul. My favorite was the irrigation, a necessity since we lived in the western desert. Water would flow down one row and turn at the end flowing up the next row until all the rows were filled with water.
It was a magic place and time with Grandpa. There was never a time Grandpa did not have a garden. When he and Grandma moved to an apartment, either he would grow tomatoes in the 2x3 foot plot of land near the patio or he would grow tomato plants in containers. Each time he would harvest, he would lovingly hold the tomato in his hand. He would caress his treasure and allow the person near him to smell it and then he sliced that red juicy fruit and served. Tomatoes were his trademark.
John Denver sang a song called, Home Grown Tomatoes. One line says.
“And when I die don’t bury me in a box
in a cold dark cemetery.
Out in the Garden would be much better,
‘cause I could be pushing up a home grown tomato.”
This is what Grandpa needed. There is a twinge of sadness when I think of him buried in a nice well-kept cemetery that does not allow live plants as part of the memorial. He should have a tomato plant on his grave growing each summer.
Growing is such a relaxing, wonderful part of life. There are hundreds of books written on the “How-To” of gardening. Those are great things to know, but there is another part of gardening. Gardening is digging in the dirt and the scent of the soil after a rain. It is watching flowers come up in the spring that you forgot were there. It is sitting in the middle of your garden and staring at it, almost watching it grow. It is finding a peaceful place to meditate. Gardening is pouring over flower and vegetable catalogs in the winter to give you a glimpse of springtime in an otherwise stark time. It is pushing your shopping cart in the spring as you pick out each plant and fill the cart with bursts of color and the potential of future salads. It is harvesting your vegetables and eating them the moment they are picked. Gardening is a summer meal with nothing but fresh vegetables and watermelon. It is clearing the dried foliage away and preparing the soil for a long winter’s nap.
A garden is a place of enjoyment. It does not matter if it is a small plot on your back patio or acres of rich soil. It is a place to find peace. A garden cultivates life. Perhaps, if you are very lucky, you get to share your garden with a Grandpa.