My Dad loved his garden. Mom loved it, too, but it was always Dad’s garden and he did most of the work in there. He did the tilling, the hoeing, the planting, the watering and a lot of the weeding. Mom would weed as well and did a lot of the harvesting before it ended up on someone’s plate as part of one of her delicious meals or in the “cold room” in a mason jar or somewhere in the freezer. Our family could hardly wait for the garden to be ready to supply the ingredients for Mom’s Hungarian green pea soup and her garden fresh creamed bean soup. Delicious!
Of course Dad’s children/slaves were expected to do their share as well. In the fall, during my youth, it would not be unusual to come home from school to find a small load of manure in a pile on his garden with a couple of forks sticking out of it. No one had to tell my brother Gord or me who the forks were intended for. Football, the Hub Café or hanging with friends be damned--get that caca spread! And do it right! Don’t be throwing it around willy-nilly and then run off to the playground. Oh no. There was always a method to be followed and you can never, ever rush the process.
The garden was Dad’s refuge. It was his escape from the stresses of life. To me, not having the green thumb and all, it was a cause for stress. You see, I never really took to the work involved in gardening. It just looked too much like…well…WORK to me and I had a great aversion to work. Garden/yard work, I should say, you know, physical, slave-labour-type work. Hoeing and shoveling and bending and picking and mosquito slapping and…oh my goodness there was nothing appealing to it at all. I preferred having my sweat manufactured on a playing field not on a vegetable growing field, if you know what I mean? I could work. I didn’t even mind work, so much, I just picked a different outlet for my labour. When allowed, that is.
After the forced-labour gardening days of my youth/adolescence there were a few care-free years when I was gone from home and living here and there and nowhere near a garden. Ahhh, the good ol’ free-man days. Then…I married a farm girl. A garden-loving farm girl, no less. And now it’s Déjà vu all over again.
“You want to help me in the garden tonight?”
“Ah, you know, I wouldn’t mind but I got this sore toe.”
I do what I can to get out of it but you can only hide so many places and so many times before it catches up to you. You see, my wife has a very valid point…I love the finished product so one has to produce to get the produce, you know? If I want those peas and carrots for that soup then you got to grow them now don’t you? If you want the lettuce to taste like lettuce…then you got to grow it now don’t you? So now I’m back to helping in the garden…like it or not.
Oh, I suppose we could market garden it or revert back to the old garden raiding days but I’m a lot more honest now than I was at fourteen and I can’t run like I used to, either, and, besides, it tastes better when you earn it. Or so I’m told.
All joking aside, that first steaming ladle of the Zoldborsoleves, csipetke tesztaval (green pea soup with pinched noodles) out of the pot with the garden fresh peas and onions and carrots…mmmmm, makes it all worth it.
“Gardens aren’t made by singing, ‘Oh, how beautiful’ and sitting in the shade.”-Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).