I have very few memories of actually harvesting anything as a child, but the ones I do have stand out in my mind. We moved around quite a bit as I was growing up, and mainly stayed in rentals. In the rentals, the yard was never huge, and there was really now reason to have a garden because you had to get the landlords approval. While living in Las Vegas, we lived in an apartment, and the city garden movement was pretty much nonexistent.
As a little kid in early elementary school, I still lived in Oklahoma, and my Great Grandma Helberg was still alive. She live in a smaller town, 9 miles away from the bigger small town. I actually remember being in a car with my grandma and grandpa as we traveled to see my Great Grandmother. I remember it taking most of the morning on the one lane old highway, and I remember having to pack a lunch to go. As I look back on that now, I chuckle because my parents live in that small town. It takes me 20 minutes to get to the grocery store in the bigger small town. But, my grandpa was a slow driver. There were picnic table stops along the way, and even still today if you travel back highway’s in Oklahoma, you will find a random covered picnic table stop. I do believe it was used for families traveling from farm to farm, a rest area with no bathrooms. By the time we made it to Great Grandmas, we were so excited to get out of the car and run around. These trips were for helping her harvest her big vegetable garden. It truly was a big family fun event. She would make us corn husk dolls, and let us play in the guestroom. Oh, I loved that guestroom. It had a vanity that I dreamed of having, and I remember make believing I was putting makeup on. Her house was so exciting and new. I also remember going out to see the outhouse that my great grandfather used. Even though they had plumbing, he refused to use the bathroom in the house, he only used the outhouse. I also remember all the German books, which I have a few now, but being intrigued that they could speak another language. They came fresh off the boat from Germany. Great Grandma Helberg’s house was exotic for a child, and all children could not help but get lost in make believe.
When I was in college and ended up moving back to Oklahoma, my Grandma (Great Grandma Helberg daughter in law) would sit in a rocking chair on her back porch with a bowl full of beans, and we would snip the ends of the beans and talk. We would talk about life, about how she was doing, about anything really. I remember feeling a sense of calm, slowing things down and being in the moment. The simple act of harvesting brought people together. It was always hard work, but it was good work, the kind that got the whole family involved.
I think on some level, this is why I have a big garden today. The kids and I will sit on the back porch, snip beans or peas, tie herbs to dry and shuck corn. It is slow, deliberate and on some level fun. Even though we do not have a grandma close by, we have a community that shares their harvest at church or we can go down the street and get tomatoes that are overwhelming a neighbor. Gardening brings people together, and people who would not normally talk, suddenly talk about their tomato crop, or how those pesky beetles hurt their potatoes this year.
Harvest time brings a community together, and reminds us that the most valuable communication is face to face and growing memories together.
I hope you are all having a happy harvest!
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