“I love to spend time working the living earth. There is joy to be found in coaxing life from seeds and nourishing that life to bring beauty to our home and food to our table.
When I was young my parents believed that boys who were busy working were also boys who would have little time to get into trouble. As it happens they were right.
Because of the love of my parents we learned to work. We learned to garden. We learned to put up what we grew. We learned to provide for ourselves.
We also learned to provide for the needs of those who were less fortunate.
I remember a particular afternoon sitting in our living room. The East Texas sun burned in the cloudless sky. My mother and I were talking. I looked out the window and observed a lone woman in our garden with a sack. She was helping herself to our produce!
“Momma someone is stealing our vegetables,” I said. I leapt to my feet to chase off the vegetable thief.
“Sit down son,” Momma said.
“But she is stealing from our garden!” I was very upset. We had worked so hard that year and here someone was taking advantage.
Momma appeared unbothered which bothered me. “Are you just going to let her take our food?” I asked.
“Son,” Momma began, “Are we going without?”
“No but…” I started to answer.
“Look at the woman in the garden and tell me about her,” Momma said.
I looked. I was angry but I looked. The woman was older than I first realized. Her clothing was tattered. She was thin – too thin. I started to feel something and Momma knew it. “Is she going without?” Momma asked.
I was still angry. The woman was stealing. Clearly Momma didn’t mind but this woman was stealing! “Momma – she is stealing!”
“Son she can’t steal what is freely given,” Momma said.
I am thankful that my industrious and thoughtful parents passed on what they knew to me. Now I am working to pass these things on to my own children.
In the garden I learned to work. I learned to be self sufficient. I learned to provide for myself, my family, and for those who are not able to provide for themselves. I learned to respect my parents, self respect, and respect for life. I learned to listen to my parents as the lessons that they taught came to fruition before my very eyes.
I am a gardener.”