I know mine was. Some of my earliest memories, from well over a half-century back, were enriched by those special times when my older siblings were already in school and my younger brother still a baby. Some days I had several hours of her complete attention.
One day she saw me looking over the wooden fence that divided our back yard. I was about five. She asked what I was thinking about, and I explained how I loved Grandpa’s garden. Her Dad’s garden was huge and loaded with all kinds of fruits and vegetables. It was an exciting place (great variety yet much uniformity).
I asked if we could plant a small garden in the area between that mid-fence and the rear fence. She said that it would take a little work
clearing and spading and asked what I wanted to plant. “Beans.” I liked beans and just wanted to plant some and watch them come up. She explained that I’d have to do all the work, but that I’d get the very first helping of beans.
I grabbed shovel and hoe and got with it. She watched for a while, standing there in that well worn dress she’d made from seed sacks. My memory is not all that clear, but it seems like it was covered in little blue and pink flowers. On that warm, late Spring day, soft breeze, leaning there against the fence, I thought she was awfully pretty. She made all our clothes, usually from Grandpa’s feed sacks. I didn’t have a store bought shirt until I was in Junior High.
After a bit, we drove off to the feed store to get the beans. Upon returning she told me how to lay out four rows in the newly cleared area and how to spade the rows until they were almost dust. She then had me make a fist and use my index finger to poke a hole about every foot or so where I could drop the seed. She opened the sack of beans, and I
grabbed a handful and froze before starting to plant them. “What’s the matter?”, she asked. I explained how I had smashed open some beans like this sometime before and there wasn’t much inside them. I was confused.
“Do I plant them belly up or on their side or what? How do they know which way is up, which way to grow?” I had already seen that they didn’t have much of a brain.
She started to answer, and then paused for a moment, studying me. “Tell you what. You have four rows. Why not plant the first row belly up, second row belly down, third row on their right side and the fourth row on the left
side?” I liked that. She went further. “For the first few feet, plant the beans only six inches apart. That way, you can thin them when they first come up. You’ll be able to pull every other one up and see how it grew and which rows did best.” We made little cardboard row markers with arrows indicating how the beans were placed.
I’ll not bore you with the details of what happened later, but it was fun. I actually don’t remember eating those beans, but I certainly
remember their planting. This little farm raised woman with very little formal education taught me more about problem solving, early on, than some of those high powered professors did later on. They tended to teach a subject, but she taught me how to figure out some things on my own, maybe not quickly, but eventually.
I thought, back then, that she was forever. In the sunrise of my life, I didn’t realize that she’d be gone well before sunset.
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