Monday, February 2, 2009

Fresh Peas and Tomatoes

I love getting junk mail this time of year, since it includes several brightly colored and beautifully illustrated seed catalogues. These things are works of art. There's the expected Burpee and Gurney Catalogues, this from the Burpee site:

My favorite catalogue by far is from Territorial Seed Company,  located here in the Pacific Northwest. This year's edition is a hefty 167 pages and its cover a vividly colored ink and watercolor work of art. 

Image found here.

Disclaimer: I don't receive any compensation for plugging these sites. Goodness knows if any of these companies saw my garden, they probably would pay me not to link my weed-infested patch to anything remotely connected to their products.

These publications are something I savor with a cup of coffee, putting my feet up on the coffee table while daydreaming of bushel baskets overflowing with blue ribbon worthy tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, sweet corn, and any other delicious veggies imaginable. Ahhhh..........

I have always enjoyed dirt.  

Wait, let me rephrase that - I have always enjoyed working with soil. Which sometimes amazes me given that as a kid, my mother's calm reply to me when I would sass her was, "OK, Julia - that remark will cost you two rows." 

This meant I had to grab a hoe, head out to our enormous garden behind the machine shed, and weed two rows in the vegetable garden. If I was stupid enough to open my mouth to make any kind of comment about this, it cost me yet another two rows. Mom's rows in her garden seemed the length of a football field. 

Gee, I can't imagine why, but I remember being sent to the garden to hoe those rows a lot

After I had groused about the unfairness of it all, (quietly and well out of Mom's earshot - I may have been a mouthy kid but not a stupid one), and settled in to my work, I would grudgingly start to enjoy being in the garden. I would kick off my sneakers and wiggle my toes in the soil. Peas picked and eaten standing in the row of greenery taste better than anything that I can think of, except maybe the first ripe tomato still warm from the sunshine. Nothing is as fragrant as a big head of dill still on the stalk. I'd snap a fistful of bright zinnias and marigolds to bring back to Mom as a peace offering. 

I have always had a garden, even if it was a row of pots on my deck in metro Minneapolis. I wish that I could say that my gardens were as productive and gorgeous as my mother's. They were not. But I still enjoy wiggling my toes in warm summer garden dirt and eating peas off the vine. 

Over the past five years, John and the kids have indulged me by planting and maintaining my garden. What a gift this has been! Sjogren's and its fatigue could have claimed yet another of my favorite pastimes, but it hasn't. My family patiently digs and hoes and plants and waters as I dictate from my lawn chair. 

Oh, yeah. Take that, autoimmune disease. Julia and company win this round. And no sassing, or I'll put you to work hoeing two rows in my garden. 

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