Wednesday, June 9, 2010

fruit of our labor

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. 
 Proverbs 20:11

The kids have been working hard lately and helping me with the gardening.  I would like to tell you that they are excited and absolutely love the time spent in the garden, but that wouldn't be completely true.  Actually, most of the time they are acutely aware that it is hot and they are sweating and their are bugs and many of the plants make them itch.  But, they are slowly learning that complaining does more harm than good and that doing a job correctly the first time means that they won't have to redo it later.  They are even managing to find a little fun in the work as well ... especially in hunting for and picking the ripe tomatoes and when Papa lets them pick up the freshly dug potatoes.  I think they were a little proud the other night when I cooked fresh green beans and mashed potatoes from beans and potatoes that they had helped harvest and prepare.  They all three snapped beans and D was Papa's official potato washer (in other words, he wanted to play in the water and Daddy just put that desire to good use!) 

Truth be told, I didn't like gardening much as a child either.  I did like picking cucumbers and snapping beans wasn't too bad, but our family of six canned or froze massive amounts of summer produce each year.  When my uncle, who was a farmer by trade, would call and say that the corn was in, Daddy and the boys would load up early one morning and head south.  They would return hours later with somewhere between 500-800 ears of corn.  We would spend the next few days shucking, silking, cutting, blanching, cooling, bagging, and freezing all that corn.  And corn was just one of the things that would fill the freezer or line the pantry each year.  One year we canned 300 pounds of tomatoes in one week, making my Mama's special concoction that we call relish but that is really more of a base for everything from soup to chili to spaghetti sauce.  That meant not only washing, popping the skins, peeling, and cutting the tomatoes, it also meant washing and chopping bell pepper, onion and celery.  Not to mention washing the hundred or so jars that would be needed for the canning process.

And then there were the peas and the snap beans and the cucumbers and the squash and the butter beans and the blackberries we would pick in the woods for jelly and the potatoes we would sometimes dig in my Grand-daddy's garden.  Weeks each summer were spent picking, shelling, snapping, cutting and perserving.

I know that, even today, this is not abnormal to people who live on farms or for those of us who would like to return to a simpler life, but let me tell you that this was abnormal in my society as a kid.  And, when I knew that my friends were spending their summers swimming or vacationing or just hanging out and doing whatever they pleased, I was a little jealous. 

But, my Daddy believed in the importance of the family working together toward a common goal and didn't like things that interfered with those goals. 

I thought that he was either crazy or just didn't understand what kids were supposed to do in the summer.  I mean, none of my friends had to do those things, why did we?

I can only hope that my children grow up and have the appreciation I now have for those lessons learned when Mama and Daddy wouldn't let us complain as the sweat was dripping from ... everywhere and when I would have rather been curled up with a good book than contributing to the family economy.  I hope they learn earlier than I did to enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that every member of the family profits when we all work together without grumbling or complaining ... and it doesn't really matter if you are complaining for the whole world to hear, or just doing it in your heart ... the results are about the same.

I hope they grow up to be jealous of the time spent with their families and with a strong desire to protect that time from too many outside interferences.  I hope that they will see the family as a unit that works best when all are working toward a common goal.  And I hope that they will want to pass on the things that we have taught them to their children.

Which reminds me of how important it is that we teach our children things that are worthy to be passed on to our grandchildren.  Sometimes this task seems overwhelming to me.  But I know that with such an enormous responsibility comes an awesome blessing.  I can see that now in how much my Daddy loves to see his grandkids in the garden ... and how I love seeing him pass on his knowledge to them.  It is wonderful to see this come full circle and know that what was only a drudgery to me as a child is now a gift that I can give to my children.  They may not understand that for a long time, but that is okay ... someday, they'll get it ... I did.

A few more pictures of our gardening experience ...
That little bit of yellow is D hunting in the jungle for ripe tomatoes

JW in the taters

Silly kids with green beans stuck to their shirts


Greg and Donna said...

WONDERFUL! My kids kinda complain too but my grocery budget will be happy this summer. Secret:...the promise of 1/2 price milkshakes at Sonic are great for bribery! They are buy one get one free this summer!

Rie said...

That was a wonderful post, Jennifer. We had a big garden when I was little, though not like that, but I don't remember having to work in it much. I really wish I had more.

The garden looks so healthy and green. Because of what was going on with Gregg's work we only got tomatoes planted this year. Kinda strange to look out there and not see a garden for the first time since I was six.

Absolutely love the picture of the beans on their shirts!

Donna said...

Wonderful post, Jennifer! I did not enjoy working in the garden, but I sure did (and still do) enjoy the end results! There's nothin' like opening a jar of green beans in the middle of December and thinking about the nice warm weather when they were picked and canned! :)

Hope you're having a great day!

KTElltt said...

I wonder how many of your friends who had "bum" summers are as industrious now? Food for thought. It's cool that you're passing the skills on to your kids!

Mrs. Trixi said...

My kids like certain things about the garden. Like my son loves the watermelons, so he takes care of them with little to no prodding. My oldest daughter loves the peas so she will pick peas for hours. However, we do get a little complaining when it comes to a lot of the work but we just say it is building character. Ha Ha
Your garden is beautiful!!