Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Mysterious Pea Pods

About a week ago I planted a small garden out at Alison and Ammon's place.  I must be getting old or maybe there is some other message waiting for me that I have not yet learned.  It seems like these day the slightest and seemingly insignificant activity cause a flood of memories to come over me and I find myself reflecting on things in my past and in my future much more deeply than I did in younger years.  As I planted the garden I couldn't help but think of the many gardens I helped plan as a young lad in Lanark.  We had a rather large garden, I'm guessing maybe about a quarter of an acre.  That may not seem very large, but when it is a planted and cared for by the sweat of the brow, it sometimes seemed immense, at least to me.  Gardening in in the Bear Lake Valley is always a risky venture, but it was even more so back in the so-called good old days.  We were always concerned about frosts that might wipe out the garden unexpectedly anytime up until July.  It has been said that there are only two seasons in Bear Lake, Winter and the Fourth of July.  That may be stretching it a little, but I'm sure you get the point.  Winters are long and summers are short.  This played a major role in helping us make a selection of seeds to plant.  We always planted, peas, carrots, and potatoes.  These were not planted just for a taste of fresh vegetables as they began to mature during the summer, but were rather intended to be canned/bottled and preserved for use by the family during the long winters.  It was for that reason that the garden was rather large.  I especially loved the fresh peas right out of the pod.  Often I would go tot the garden when no one was around and help myself to these tasty, little, green peas.  Sometimes I would go out and do it before they were ready to be picked, or probably the main concern here was that the peas filled more bottles when they were mature.  One day mother caught me in the garden feasting on the young peas.  She came over to where I was and gently, but firmly impressed upon my mind, that I shouldn't pick the peas.  Several days later, she was in the garden pea patch again and she noticed a very strange phenomenon.  Many of the pea pods were hanging on the vine but mysteriously the peas had all been stripped from them and they were hanging there empty.  It didn't take a very long investigation to realize that I had been strictly obedient to her admonition of a few days earlier not to pick the peas.  Yes, I was the culprit and was given more explicit instructions for the future. I have often thought about this experience as I have gone through life, being admonished from time to time by others who have been in a position to give me guidance.  Since then I have tried to follow the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law without trying to find excuses or rationalizing to suit my own fancy.  It seems like such a little thing, but in reality a very important lesson for life.
       Of course we grew other things as well, radishes, turnips, Swiss chard, and a few other hardy vegetables, but in the short summer month around Lanark, Idaho such staples as corn, beans,  tomatoes,and squash were considered to be too risky for the most part.  The killing frosts often came before the summer months were past and we learned to live with this inconvenience and take advantage of the things we knew would generally do well in our area.
       I remember Dad and Mom tried several different garden sites, mostly in an attempt to find a place not quite so prone to early and late frosts as we were on the little knoll where our home was located.  One was up on the hill next to the canal on the Lyme Hymas farm which we rented for many years while most of us were growing up.  This spot had the added advantage of being very close to the canal where irrigation water could be easily obtained.  I remember mother packing a lunch and hiking up the hill where she would stay most of the day tending the garden.  It was hard work, but she seemed to like the solitude and the chance to be outdoors in nature doing something useful.  I never heard her complain about this task and even recall being there on the hill with her and singing some of the songs we had learned earlier in Primary.  These are fond memories for me now.
      All of this caring and working with the garden led to even more work when it came time to harvest and can the produce.  How well I remember the bushel baskets full of peas ready for shelling and the carrots needing a good wash.  More importantly, I now reflect upon the love with which the labor was performed, that we might have food on the table and not have to go hungry.  I'm sure I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have then, but now as I reflect on those times and all that work, I am more aware of the sacrifice our parents made to provide for us and gratitude wells up in my own soul as I plant a few seeds of my own and give thanks for the bounties that were provided then and now.

By Bart

1 comment:

  1. My favorite part of the harvest was the deer hunt. As a teen-ager I looked forward to it more than Christmas or anything else. I got my first hunting license when I was 12 and bought my first 30-30 lever action rifle from money earned from working in the hay fields East of Paris that summer. It was actually a pretty good job. I drove a white army jeep pulling a rake behind. All my friends thought I was pretty lucky and I guess I was. Even though I was only 12 I had several years on tractors and other equipment and was able to do a good job for my first employer.

    Back to the local deer hunt. It was a community affair. I especially remember trucks going through the community and picking up everyone that wanted to go. Usually that occured on Saturday. Once in the area of possible deer locations drives would be organized and shooters would be placed in strategic spots. Most of these days resulted in successful hunts. It was also fun sitting around the camp fires in between drives and listening to the stories that were told and eating food brought from home. As I look back on it it still remains as some of the most memorable times of my life.

    At this point in my life I don't believe I could shoot a deer but in those days deer meat was food for winter. The deer was cut into quarters or as needed and hung on the outside of the house where it remained frozen all winter and was used as need. Later we dug out the baeement and had a large freezer placed in it which eliminated the need for hanging the deer meet out side.

    I found out that the older and wiser adults on the deer hunts always figured out how to get the younger members of the hunt to do the driving and they would do the shooting, Oh well still fun. Dad was an excellent hunter a very good shot and always took care of me. My last hunt with him was on a leave from my air force duties. He picked out a place where he knew the deer would run out if they were in a grove of trees. He went above the grove of trees and started yelling and throwing rocks. Shortly the deer came bounding out of the grove. I stood up and started shooting. Three ran out and three were taken home. We had the tags for all three but I don,t know where they came from. I remember Dad saying "it's a good thing that a dozen didn't run out." He was fun to go hunting with but he could out walk me any day. I miss those occasions with him.

    I just had a thought that I may have already told this storey --If so I'm sorry, but it kind of goes with the territory these days.