It’s been a while since I wrote anything on my blog. I must confess that I take writing in spells. I’ll get on a kick and spend all my extra time on reading historical fiction novels to the detriment of writing. I’ve also been busy with just different things, mostly with the holidays and all the preparation that goes with that so I didn’t take the time to write.
The winter months usually are a pretty much down time for the garden and yard. With our climate, we don’t plant anything in the garden until late February or early March. I was very busy from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve “peddling” my collards. I guess I have more of my daddy, the grocer, in me than I ever realized. After a long career in public education, I retired 3 years ago to enjoy more gardening and farming. I happened upon growing collards two years ago. I had never planted collards and really had never eaten them. I love turnip greens and as long as my father-in-law was alive either he or I always planted a turnip patch so I didn’t eat collards much. But two years ago I decided to plant 10 plants just to see if I could grow them and how they would do. And did they do well! I ended up giving most of those original 10 plants away and taking a big “mess” to our church’s annual Thanksgiving meal, where they were a hit. So last year, I decided to plant a big crop of collards to much success and another larger crop this year. I don’t make much money off them….just a little “walking around money” as my late father-in-law would say. But I get a lot of satisfaction out of working with Harry (my husband) to plant them, weed and tend to them, and then provide our friends with locally grown beautiful bunches of collards. I planted 64 plants the first year and 72 the second year and sold all but about 5 bunches, which I cooked and used myself. I could probably sell twice that many if I wanted to. I’m not sure I want to get too big! There is a large farm production facility in the midlands called W.P. Rawl and Sons that grows most of the collards that are consumed on the east coast. I’m not giving them competition!
We had a great Christmas with the family and following Christmas Day, we had our two oldest grandchildren for several days. The weather was beautiful and we spent a lot of time outdoors. One of our favorite things to do and a favorite of the grandkids, is to load up in our Mule and ride all over the pasture. We look at the cows and rub heads and discuss animal husbandtry. We’ll ride down to the lake and see what wildlife we can see…….always different depending on the time of the year and the weather. On one of our rides in the pasture, we visited a little beaver pond and discovered the slicked place on the bank where the beavers had been sliding into the water. We didn’t see any beavers but we knew they had been there. We saw a majestic Great Blue Heron who nests and lives in the shallow end of our lake. He or she is a beautiful specimen of this bird. I can’t get close enough to get a really good picture as he/she is very shy and will watch us approach in the Mule and then gracefully fly off in the direction of the beaver pond. There is a little island near the end of the lake and I believe that the bird must nest there. I’ll keep check on him/her and see if I can discover a nest.
While on this outing with the grandchildren, we took them to visit the old homeplace that is on the farm. This old homeplace is at least 175 years old, having been home to tenant farmers, renters, and Harry’s mom and dad after their marriage. Harry lived there until he was 7 years old. It is a simple old farmhouse, set up on rocks with 4 rooms downstairs and 2 rooms upstairs. As Harry walked around the old house, now starting to deteriorate, he showed the kids the little block building that was used to take showers and wash clothes. The house didn’t have running water except in the kitchen. Harry shared with the kids how he and his sister would run from the house to the washhouse to bathe and then run back covered in a quilt to get beside the stove in the kitchen. Our granddaughter, who is very interested in science and nature, was very intrigued with the concept of the “outhouse” and what happened to the human waste that was contained in the ground beneath the outhouse. Harry explained that his father would put lime in the “hole” to kill the odor and insects. Our granddaughter was not as grossed out as I thought she would be. Later we laughed at the thought that she would go to her suburban school north of Atlanta and share her newfound information with her classmates! Kids these days and many adults have no concept of life in the “good old days”!
We walked around the house and as Harry shared childhood memories of growing up here, I was touched by the attentiveness of the kids and the questions they asked. Later, Harry and I talked about the importance of sharing our memories and lives with the grandchildren. We pass on who we are, our values, our beliefs, our DNA, our historical memories in these talks and walks with our family. We impart a sense of belonging and a sense of place and family pride by passing on stories and memories. What a special opportunity!
It was on the walk on this particular day that Harry showed me my special Christmas present. Santa had written a letter for me in a card that said I would have to wait a couple of days to see my present. After reading all the clues, I was sure it was a new MULE that we had been talking about with extra seats to haul the grandkids around in. To my surprise and delight it was another huge ROCK! I’ve written before about my love of rocks and how he helped me build a rock wall with huge rocks from the farm. When we were excavating the rocks for the wall, there was one huge rock in the ground that I could tell was very long and flat. Try as he might, Harry’s little Bobcat was not big enough to get that rock out of the ground so I had to be satisfied with the rocks he was able to get. We worked on the wall and I was happy. Earlier in the fall, he bought a new “toy”, a Bobcat excavator. Some men spend money on fancy bass boats, fast cars, specialized golf clubs, season tickets–not my husband. He spends his money on farm equipment. This excavator has been very handy to help with a lot of projects that the Bobcat couldn’t do. I don’t begrudge the expense at all. So with the help of this new toy, Harry was able to excavate this gigantic rock and move it up to a spot in the pasture to show me. He wanted me to decide where to put it before bringing it to the house. Moving such a hefty rock is not as easy as it sounds, even with the excavator. I decided to put it in the yard near the garden close to a Maple tree. It will become a new place to sit and pray and enjoy nature. It’s big enough to serve as a table for an impromptu picnic or a gathering of grandkids to sit. As I have said before, some women love 2 carat rocks for their fingers and there is nothing wrong with that. My loving husband knows the way to my heart is with a 2 ton, billion years old rock!
Here’s the letter from Santa:
Hello Ms. Catherine……First let me say Merry Christmas to you and all the family. I need to explain why your present is not under the tree. Don’t fret, I didn’t forget but in this modern age Santa’s sleigh is just not the best option to save the day in this case. My elves were no help as not one of them can drive and your present would not fit in the sleigh. So PopPop has agreed to help Santa on this one and I’ll deal with him later. So let’s see if you can guess what your present is…
- It’s built like a tank–it won’t be pushed around.
- It has a lifetime warranty (PopPop took care of the paperwork for you)
- It is in pristine condition
- It does not need any work–just a little TLC.
As you know, Santa’s time is very limited so PopPop will need you to go with him to pick up your present. PS, don’t expect another one of these next Christmas!