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In and Out of the Garden: A Poem

Someone asked me why I named the blog “In and Out of the Garden” and I realized that I probably should have addressed that in my very first post. So, a little late perhaps, but here is my slightly long explanation.

I was very close to my maternal and paternal grandparents when I was growing up. My paternal grandmother was an extremely talented writer, artist, musician and more than anything loved children. In short, a perfect grandmother.

GrandpaH.jpgMy paternal grandfather was a cantankerous, partially deaf old thing who had a tendency to repeat long winded stories about his colorful past. But he had the greenest thumb I have ever seen. His passion in his retirement years was his garden. They moved to the small Northern California town of Red Bluff where they had a modest house with a huge dirt lot which he turned into his garden.

When we visited he would take us for a tour of every fruit tree, grape arbor, chicken coop and row of beans on the property. And I ate my first real tomato from his garden. Fruits and vegetables from his plot of land were a real eye opener for me. At every visit, I would be amazed at the type of food they would make for us.

These were not elaborate meals, just traditional homemade food — meat and potatoes and lots of vegetables. We would often have simple salads of lemon cucumber slices or a salad of just sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper. Lunch might be a big slice of watermelon and some bread and butter. At breakfast we might have a bowl of just-off-the-tree ripe peaches topped with a little cream. These were the most delicious things I tasted in childhood. You see, I grew up eating predominately canned and frozen vegetables. My mother hated to cook and relied on convenience foods and eating out. We ate out a lot. So, it is thanks to my grandfather that I discovered how wonderful vegetables can be and I really treasure the time that I spent with him.

When he died about fifteen years ago, I wanted to write something to read at his service. I sat down the day before I left to fly up there, and I wrote a poem that I titled “In and Out of the Garden.” It just came out of me, and it was just the right thing to read at his service. Here is the poem that inspired the name of the blog.

In and Out of the Garden

There was a time
a story time
a time for growing
a lot of time
spent in his garden

He could coax quite a few
living things from the earth
or animals into his hands

I remember his perfect August lunch
of bread and butter
and the thickest rubine slices
of the garden’s watermelon

I go to the Farmer’s Market now
every week and look among
the fruits and vegetables
sometimes the farmers’ hands
hold out a peach or plum
from a few hundred miles
or more away
and his eyes squint
into the morning sun
his weathered hands
cradle the most delicate fruit

A peach tree and a garden after his own heart
and gardens keep growing

Chickens and melons, tomatoes and a grape arbor
Almond country
and rivers and mountains in the distance
and a glimpse of the past in the distance

there was a time
on evenings ago
of old sepia photos and stories
over and over
looking for the past

and meanwhile from the garden
canned food for a rainy day
a rainy world
a secure moment
against a fickle world

food from the ground
coax a living thing
into weathered hands
a weathered soul
a life of growing
sowing
and reaping

and was it gratifying to know
that with your own hands
you had created something
to nourish the ones you love?

I wander through the farmers’ stands
and I see glimpses
of his fruits
his hands

a lifetime in those hands
a life of sowing
and gardens
keep growing.

Comments (2)

Donna:

Krista, your poem for your grandfather was absolutely beautiful!

Thank you!

Donna

Kim:

Beautiful, thanks for sharing.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 13, 2007 9:01 PM.

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