Sunday, September 25, 2011

It turns out gardening is in my blood

In Loving Memory
Uncle Harvey
Yesterday I went to the funeral of my Uncle Harvey. Uncle Harvey was my fathers brother. There were cousins there I haven't seen for 45 years. We sat together at the reception and reminisced and shared stories. My grandmother (Harvey's mother) was the 'most beautiful person that ever lived on the planet'. She was an incredible gardener. She had a beautiful flower garden. My other uncle, Orrie, is a builder of birdhouses. I didn't know this until last year. My sister and I are each the proud owners of Uncle Orrie's birdhouses now. I will treasure it always. In pictures of my grandmothers garden there is an incredible birdhouse. White and green. Many, many levels and holes. I think she said it was a Purple Martin house? I found out Orrie built it. Orrie is approaching 90 and still has an immaculate yard that he gardens himself. He cuts his own huge lawn and everything! My grandfather had a vegetable garden. You walked through my grandmothers garden, through an arbor and into the garden. It must have been an acre. He grew the most delicious vegetables ever. I don't remember EVER seeing a weed in either of their gardens. I grew up eating perfect vegetables, but really hated fruit and veg as an adult. It took me decades to realize that store bought, were just not good veggies. I had been spoiled.
Talking to my cousins yesterday, I realized that most of my family has been bitten by the gardening bug. It runs in the family. Even though we left Ontario at a young age, it is in our DNA. The other trait that runs in the family is a love of animals. Jess and I were very touched that Uncle Harvey was an animal lover. There was a picture of him as a young teenager with his arms around a small cat. His daughter, my cousin Debbie, is a real lover of not only cats, but any animal it seems. In her backyard she has special feeders, just like grandma had, for the squirrels. She feeds a seagull, about 15 raccoons, all manner of birds, and I gather pretty much any animal that happens into her yard. Inside her door is a cat post, feeder, food and anything a cat could want. She does not have a cat. This is all for the neighborhood cats who may not get the food or attention they need. Two were lying in her yard basking in the sun. So it seems, that the intense love of animals that Jess and I share, is in our DNA as well. All in all, it was a wonderful day. Even though we were there for such a sad occasion, I feel so connected and such a part of a grander design than I knew. When I got home, I came in the front door and went straight out the back. Feeling connected to my garden in a way that wasn't there the day before yesterday.


Mark Willis said...

I'm a second-generation veg-gardening fanatic. My Dad taught himself about it when he retired, and I was enthused by his efforts and didn't leave it so late!

Erin said...

Hi Mark. Isn't it just the most wonderful thing. Growing food. I didn't have the benefit of learning at my dads knee. Both my parents were so busy, I don't think they had time. Not sure why we didn't have veggie gardens. I would love to pick your second gen brain now and again. For example. Today I am oven roasting tomatoes. I have a feeling they were a bit under ripe. They felt a bit woody when I cut them. I picked when they got a bit soft. Do they need to be really squishy before picking?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss Erin. I too am an animal lover of all kinds. My two cats were strays brought in in winter time. One is Jingles and one is Frosty, hence the winter monikers. Gardens do have a way of turning a poor day into one so much better.

Erin said...

Thank you for you kind thoughts.

Ahhhh, a fellow animal lover. Have you been to my website? I have the story of Sweet Pea our Hawaiian cat rescue in there. If you go to and click on the button on the left that says Sweet Pea Rescue. It is quite a story. Much more involved than we dreamed. Everything that could go wrong did...and then everything that could go right did.
I also have a button Dogtown Trip. It is about our trip to Utah to volunteer at Best Friends. Lots of pictures.
And yet a third button that says Photo's. If you scroll down a bit we have our Dragon Horse pets. We LOVE animals and the website had to at least reflect it a bit!!

Caro said...

Hi Erin, just popping in from London. This is a lovely post about reconnecting with all your family, one which I've enjoyed reading. I come from a large family and have loved sheds and gardens since watching both my grandfathers garden as a young child. Although decades have passed, I can still visualise both gardens clearly. One of my sisters has an allotment, I have the veg patch gardens, my other sister has just started gardening this year and my mother always has a beautiful flower and herb garden!

By the way, your tomatoes for oven roasting are best picked when ripe but not over-ripe otherwise they'll collapse during cooking. I use Nigella Lawson's recipe which includes fresh herbs, oil and dusting of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes. Email me if you want it. Caro x

Joan said...

Gardening runs in my family too. My grandmother had a wonderful vegetable garden and also had lovely house plants. I actually still have a Christmas Cactus that she gave to me and she in the early 1970s. I also have a number of her sourdough recipes that I still use. My grandfather used to look after our garden when I was young because he lived with us and my mom and dad worked long hours. You would never find a weed in his garden.

Talking about tomatoes - have you tried dehydrating them? I grew romas last year and they are great to dehydrate and they aren't as juicy as other tomatoes. Just a thought for the future.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I do think there is a gardening gene (and it runs in my family). But is it a need to be outside, to nurture generally, to be around plants, not sure. Whatever it is I have it worse than any family member yet.