Monday, April 16, 2012

Just a couple who inspired me at a pretty early age..

This late week I was recipe hunting, I seem to do alot of that lately, when I came across this site:

I read through it and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  There are some awesome recipes here, the "French Onion Soup" recipe is great! I have had it for lunch all week!!!  Check it out and tell Tom I sent you...While reading his blog I began to reminisce about a time quite a number of years ago...over 30 years ago to be exact and decided to write about my friends, Mary and Lyal Watkins.  First I reminisced with Tom and then decided I need to add it to my blog I hope you enjoy it...I did.

In my early 20's in Imlay City, Michigan, I had a retired couple who live next door to me.  Lyal, who was in his late 70's, and my 4 year old son, Shawn became fast friends soon after we moved into the house next door.  Mary, Lyal's wife, was 20 years younger than Lyal and he always said, "she's my spring chicken".  Mary would call me to warn me that Lyal was coming over to get Shawn so they could pudder, as they called it. It was a daily occurrence no matter what season it was. Puddering might have been working on the tractor or shoveling snow or any other job that Lyal could think up. One day it was hang my shutters that my husband did not get around to doing.  What ever it was, Lyal and Shawn did it together.

Between our two houses there was a one acre lot on which Lyal grew a pretty large garden. The first summer we were in the neighborhood, I asked if I could help him in the garden. I had never been exposed to gardening before. In my 20 year old immature mind, I thought this old man should not be doing such hard labor so I should help him. Little did I know how much I would learn in that summer from my new friend.

It was truly one of the most amazing years of my life.  He was a totally organic gardener long before anyone talked about organic gardening, an avid recycler and he had mulch piles, not one but several! Lyal taught me so much that year. We grew Chicago reds and Yukon gold potatoes, three or four rows of each. Several rows of green beans, yellow beans and a row of peas.  Then the onions, carrots, garlic, beets, tomato, broccoli and cauliflower and in the middle of the garden there was a raspberry and a strawberry patch.

He taught me when to add the mulch and turn the ground over.  How to space the rows and the best use your garden space. When to plant what plants and when to sow seeds. I learned how and when to mound the potatoes. How to thin out the root veggies and how to keep the broccoli going as long as you could . When to pick the beans and what to do with them after they were picked.  We bought a used freezer and between my neighbor Mary and my Mom, I learned to how to freeze vegetables.  What fruits and vegetables were best canned and how to do it!  How to make jams, pickles and relish! The list of things I learned is very long and not to mention how a 20 year old woman can become friends with a retired couple.  The twenty year old who thought she knew it all learned how really little I really knew about life. The things I learned that year I have and will always used for the rest of my life.

Anyway....I got  a little side tracked down memory lane reading through Tom's  site and it got  me fondly remembering my garden experiences....I really meant to tell him about my "fresh Peas" story it goes... "Our row of peas served the same purpose as yours!"  I told him.  During the summer if either of my two boys disappeared from the yard or the garden when I was weeding, I knew right where to look for them.  They were in the row of peas.  We never had any peas which made it to the house..never ...they were to be eaten in the garden as you worked!  The boys would watch them grow and ask, 'When can we pick them, Mom?"  I must also add that you have never had a potato which taste as they are suppose to taste...unless you have dug them from the garden and eaten the right away!  It is a taste which come from heaven.

Eventually I moved to Arizona and then to Illinois.  I have not had a large garden for some time but I will have one again soon.  I am now 57 years old, Mary and Lyal are both long gone and I think of them and the lessons that they taught me every day.  Every time I plant a seed..pull a weed or dig in the dirt. I know what I am going to do when I retire.  I am going to have a big garden! I also hope that I too have had an impact of some younger people through my years.  I plan to have many more opportunities to pass these lessons down to other 20 "something" year old  between now and when I leave this earth...And part of the plan will be to do it while tending a big garden.

So remember, every person you come in contact with in your life, you will touch and teach! You never know when you will make an impact on someones life! Thanks, Mary and Lyal, for being a part of mine. I went looking for a photo of Mary and Lyal and I did not find one. I was young, broke and had no they have to remain a photo in my mind but I am sure that you have a similar story in your life and a similar photo in your mind.  Honor them today!

Love, Jan Smith

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