Growing Up In Gardens

I was raised up in a clan of sho’ nuff knotty-headed, shoot-from-the-hip African American women, a long line of gardeners for whom gardening was no hobby.  Gardening was a fact.  It was a fact the same way going to church was a fact, the way cleaning rich people’s houses and cooking their grits were facts, the way whupping a child’s behind to keep her in school getting straight A’s was a fact.

I don’t know that my grandmother or either of her younger sisters actually enjoyed gardening.  Mostly, I remember my grandmother or Aunt Elaine sweating over a hoe in the terrible summer heat. I also remember hours  snapping sack after sack after sack (so it seemed to me) of green beans, each sack  radiating  the field heat the beans had soaked up from the sun earlier in the day.

What I do know is that something about gardening well gave them enormous satisfaction.  No memory of my grandmother’s face is more powerfully imprinted in my mind than the deep pleasure, I mean the sho’ nuff deep pleasure she took picking a fresh plum from her tree, and feeding me  straight from the fingers of her own hand.

Those plums were so ripe, and so hot from the sun they burst in your mouth when you bit down.  There was no nice way to eat those plums.  The juice was too copious.   Mouths are too small to contain such abundance.  That juice had nowhere else to go except down your chin.

Grandma was a stern woman with a frown so potent she could part a crowded grocery aisle the way Moses parted the Red Sea.  But somehow, feeding me “her” plums never failed to bring out rare rumbling  laughter; and she bragged to everyone how her grand baby couldn’t get enough of “her” plums.

When I was nine years old, I was incredibly blessed to attend North Country School, a very special private elementary school where students, faculty and staff worked together to grow and raise nearly all of the school’s own food using organic methods. That experience certainly added to the foundation laid down in my own family culture.  The relationship between hard work and food, shared work and shared food, wholesomeness and soil, sweat and satisfaction were nurtured there, and to this day are part of the bedrock of my belief system.

(Continued in “Learning While Gardening” which can be found in Sho’Nuff Sistuh’s POV)

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7 thoughts on “Growing Up In Gardens

  1. Ginger Shelby says:

    This is absolutely wonderful! Enjoyed it very much, thank you for sharing!

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      Thank you so much for your kind comments, G. Shelby. It’s difficult to write biographically. I think, “people want to learn about how to garden, not listen to you blah-blah-blah about your childhood.” But the things I have to say about gardening, ecology, and organics are connected to me so personally, I figured I would just go ahead and plunge in. I hope you visit often here!

  2. Sho'Nuff says:

    Thank you so much for your kind comments, G. Shelby. It’s difficult to write biographically. I think, “people want to learn about how to garden, not listen to you blah-blah-blah about your childhood.” But the things I have to say about gardening, ecology, and organics are connected to me so personally, I figured I would just go ahead and plunge in. I hope you visit often here!

  3. Mz. Sho’Nuff!! SOOOoooo proud of you once again. First & foremost, where do you find the time? I know the brain power is in constant flow!!
    Now the “world” shall know about our “Phenomenal Family.”
    We’re not only talking “Green Thumbs” …. “Green Hands/Feet”

    Now I can let the “Garden Club” @ Home Depot go, I now have one in the family.

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      Isn’t it true, Cousin, that we don’t “find” time, but “make it” for the things we love and for the things that inspire us? Your support means everything in the world to me. Keep on praying!

  4. Hi, i feel that i noticed you visited my website thus
    i got here to go back the favor?.I’m attempting to to find issues to
    enhance my web site!I assume its adequate to make use of a few of your
    ideas!!

    • Sho'Nuff says:

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I hope my ideas are useful for you and your gardening. I will follow your blog closely because I am the world’s WORST container gardener. I would like to learn more! Thanks again.

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