Earth Day SOL

I grew up in upstate New York, near Albany, playing-hookey-from-school close to Vermont.  The house we lived in the longest had a big yard.  When we moved in, the yard had apple and pear trees.  My mom added a garden: sunflowers along the street fence, strawberries on the sheltered side of the house, vegetables out back: beans, tomatoes, squash, corn …  She was a great gardener.  She only cut a small swatch out of the yard — maybe a 12 x 12 plot? — but she got a lot out of it.  Enough for ust ot eat well through the long growing season.  Enough that she took to canning to save the excess for winter and spring.

The canning was great.  I’d never imagined anything like it — mason jars boiling in huge pots of water, apples cooking down to sweet sauce, tomatoes whole or prepared for pasta, pickles, beans … the whole garden distilled into pretty jars lining the shelves of our pantry.

On top of the gardening, my mother was also a bread baker.  Friday was the day for the week’s baking.  Her standard whole wheat remains one of my favorite sense memories.  She tried plenty of varieties beyond whole wheat, though.  The Anadama and Boston Brown were definite crowd pleasers.

So why was my mom all about the Sally Homespun thang?  Easy.  We didn’t have much money and that garden and all her baking meant we could eat well on far less cash.  I wasn’t much aware of that reason while I was living in the middle of my mother’s horn of plenty, however,  I thought everybody lived that way … and when I found out they didn’t, I felt sorry for them.  My mom’s food was good, after all.

Last year, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I really loved it.  I read and read and read until finally I realized why I kept having an almost déjà vu experience with parts of the book: it was making me think of my mother over and over again.  My mom, a locavore before it was chic!  (Yes, just like yesterday’s post, time proves that my mom really does know best!)

Tonight in class, we talked about locavores, food miles, carbon footprints, No Impact Man, and other things eco-conscious.  I was pleased to see how much people knew … and just as suprised by things they didn’t know.  Jorge, who was the completely silent partner last week, came (quietly) out of his shell tonight with answers to almost every question, which was cool.  I talked about my mom’s garden, and Jackie said, “Your mom had some patience.  You have to sit there and wait for that cucumber to grow?  I’m going to Keyfood!”

Well, at the moment, I’m a Keyfood girl, myself, but I’m feeling inspired.  I’m not that far from the green market, and I may still have time to buy into the CSA that delivers near my job.  And, too, there’s my own back yard.  I’m going to get a small bit of it to use as I will, so …



Happy Earth Day, everyone!      (totally stolen from Inhabitat)



7 thoughts on “Earth Day SOL

  1. Thanks for sharing the memories of your Mother and your childhood. I have the same memories of my Mother and Father’s garden. My sister and I helped in the garden and canning of the fruits and vegetables. And, I never thought we did all that because we were poor. Wasn’t it the quality??? My Mom didn’t bake bread every week, my sister and I made deserts every week. I wish now that I had that bread making habit. I love the smell and taste of fresh baked bread.


  2. I love my mom and she gave me a lot but nothing connected to the kitchen. I love the details of your connection to food and our future. Earth Day has moved into a very serious mode these days. I remember Al Gore speaking about that a few years a ago. He was impatient but confident that we would wise up and I think finally, we are. Let’s hope it continues with some real support soon from the next president.


  3. To this day, my father still gardens a 20 x 20 patch in his backyard. He and my mom go to Florida now in February and part of March to escape the winter cold. But, he has to be back no later than mid-March to start preparing his garden for the next year’s crops. His green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, bibb lettuce, and kohlrabi (sp?) are to die for! And that’s just part of it. As I read your slice, I couldn’t help but be sad that my life got too busy to continue the tradition (I tried for 5 years, and then gave up). I’m so glad others still do plant and tend their gardens. The only saving grace is that, in the summer, I buy all my produce from local farms.
    Thanks for bringing back memories for me.


  4. You share another wonderful slice and the Earth Day theme was special. I love the idea of growing our own food and I wish we did more of it. It would connect us more to the soil beneath our feet. We seem so removed from that experience these days.


  5. I never really thought about the fact that the garden was a supplement to the supermarket before. It just was but you’re right. And if you post like this a lot, I figured out the strange attraction we were talking about. Ha!


  6. Thanks, everyone!

    Pati, it’s so clear how strongly you connect with gardening. The first posts of yours I read were about you and Al and your garden. And yes, quality was part of the point (and the reason I felt sorry for people who weren’t eating the way we did), but money was definitely a motivator for my mom.

    Fox, remember when Antoinette Scueglia’s mom sent a jar of her canned tomatoes home with you as a gift after you went over there to play? Clearly, she knew the homegrown stuff was better than anything we’d find on a store shelf! She probably left an excellent garden behind in Italy.


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