Most of my ancestors were farmers - the ones who didn't own real estate offices or general stores, that is. Heck, most people in the South in the 19th century were farmers, so my family was pretty typical.
When I bought my house in 2005 I developed an interest in gardening.
When you live in an apartment or a condo you typically don't get too excited about gardening. In those places "gardening" is planting something in a pot and sticking it on the balcony. When I think back to all the apartments I lived in from 1982-2005, I don't think I spent 15 minutes on any balcony or patio at any place I lived. What was the view? More apartments, or the parking lot. No lush pastoral scenes anywhere. I didn't care.
Now I have a nice backyard. True, the weeds outnumber the actual blades of grass 100:1 but so be it. I can't pay a service to come in and make it look like the Augusta National and even if I won the lottery I don't think that's where I'd spend my money. [Sorry Dad]
No, my yard will never grace the pages of Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living magazine or even Garden and Gun. I love gardening, though, and seeing things I've grown on my plate thrills me no end.
My forebears gardened for food, or to make a living. I garden for fun.
[Incidentally, Garden and Gun features a story about how to fix tomatoes called Any Way You Slice It which you might find interesting. I'm sure people who live in gated communities would appreciate something like Heirloom Tomato Salad with Grilled Peaches, Pickled Charred Shallots, and Burrata with Sorghum Vinaigrette. I think it's a wee bit pretentious..]
As for us normal folks in the South, we prefer the classics.
Pictured above is the very last homegrown tomato I was able to produce in my garden this summer. [And my pathetic attempt to root rosemary in a decorative egg cup, not me trying to grow a Christmas tree for Barbie...]
It's been a tough summer for my gardens. First I didn't feel much like gardening after my surgery. Then it was wicked hot. Lately we've had days and days of rain. Too much rain. My front yard is covered in mushrooms.
Last night I showed Michael the lovely tomato pictured above and I said:
"You know what this is?"
"A tomato." [He's so smart, that boy!]
"Not just any tomato, son. It's the LAST tomato we're going to get out of our gardens this year. THE LAST ONE."
He just looked at me like, OK, so what?
"Tomorrow, I am going to slice this beautiful tomato and make you a sandwich. Two pieces of white bread, Duke's mayonnaise, sliced tomato, salt and pepper."
He went back to looking at his phone. Typical teenager.
Oh well. I will make Mother the same kind of sandwich, and she will appreciate it.
If there's one thing I've learned, it's this: only age really gives one an appreciation of simple but beautiful things in life. I now pay attention to a beautiful piece of fruit, the birds in my backyard, the way Lola's ears are so velvety...
I finally understand quite clearly what is really important in life...