This time of year always reminds me of my Grandmother; I have been thinking of her a lot the last few days. When I was a little girl, she lived about ten miles away. Behind her house was the biggest garden I had ever seen (and with thirteen living children, summertime gardening was a must to keep them all fed). It was filled with good things to eat and I loved mid-summer when my favorites were ready for harvesting. She moved away when I was in fourth grade and no longer gardened down South but little pockets of memory are hiding here and there in my mind--sitting at her feet while she rocked and snapped the ends off the green beans, eating tomatoes whole like an apple still warm from the sunshine, watching her slice slightly green and firm tomatoes and enjoying a nice tomato and toast sandwich with her, giggling with my cousin in the corn stalks while she pretended to look for us. When the farmer's markets begin to overflow with cucumbers and tomatoes and beans and corn, I can't help but think of her. Plus, it is the best time of year to get my kids to eat veggies--the cucumbers don't have that weird waxy coating on them so my kids will happily eat the skins, the tomatoes have that sweet taste to them instead of the bland mush of trucked in tomatoes, green bean and string beans have that tender crisp to them instead of the chewy texture of frozen/canned. I garden a little but not to the extent she did--I just don't have the room she had as landlords only let you dig up little pieces of your yard for veggie plants ;) I know she gardened to save money but I wonder if she always loved the way her Littles would clear their plates of veggies the way mine do? I wonder if she made sure to have extra plants of their favorite things, just to see them get excited to pick it and eat it before it even made it inside? I wish she was still here to ask these things.
I used to think that when I got married, I would go to TN and get married in the tiny little chapel in the old Mill in Cumberland Gap so she could be there. When I was in graduate school, she was older and didn't really travel anymore. If I wanted her to be with me, I would have to go to her. And I so wanted her with me. I wanted her to meet my children and feed them oranges the way she did for me (they were my favorite and I could never resist them so she would make sure to buy some when she knew I was coming to visit when I was a little girl). I wanted them to sit at her feet as she rocked back and forth snapping beans and talked about her childhood. I wanted them to explore the land around her home and rush in to tell her about their finds, the way I had. And then she was gone. The closest I can get to sharing my children with her is to tell them about the oranges and the green beans and playing hide and seek in the corn.
I wonder if they will come to associate summertime with her as well? It is the time of year I talk about her the most, the time of year she is on my mind often. I'm glad, though--so many of those I have loved and lost I associate with the time of year they died. My Grandma, though, I think of most often during the time of year she loved, the time of year she really lived. She wasn't a fan of winter but she surely did love the summertime :)