Childhood Dreams

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Our overgrown garden

When I was ten, my grandparents retired to a piece of property in Camino, California—off of Apple Hill drive near Placerville. Before this move, they lived in the Bay Area where Grandpa tended to his small lawn and rose bushes with the such meticulous care, he earned a reputation in his neighborhood. So it was no surprise that when they settled onto a fourteen-acre piece of property with a pear orchard, gardening would be a priority for them.

Summers spent with my grandparents required an early morning foray into the strawberry patch to gather up ripe fruit. I remember Grandpa’s corn stalks waving green and gold in the sunshine and his green beans climbing up trellises along the walkway. Grandma canned her own tomato juice and froze quart upon quart of plump blueberries. In the fall, she spent hours in the kitchen putting up pears. She came up with unique flavorings like mint and cinnamon. And to this day, when I’m weeding (which I do quite often), I remember Grandma teaching me the importance of pulling out the root and not just yanking out the above-ground greenery.

I always thought I would one day have a garden like my grandparents. There was something attractive about providing food for my family, working in the soil on summer mornings, getting dirt beneath my fingernails. Although I’d always lived in town, my dream as a kid was to one day live in the country. When that didn’t happen, I tried my hand at growing tomatoes in pots and small patches of veggies that never produced much.  I was resigned to life in town and found other things to occupy my spare time—when there was any such thing.

But God knows our hearts. It amazes me that somehow, as I stumbled along my own path, He had another plan. While I was moving from home to home, Chris was settling onto a piece of property much like my grandparents’. While I was bogged down in the business of raising my kids, Chris was building garden boxes and tending to his fruit trees. And when I married Chris seven years ago, my focus was on how I’d combine our two homes into his very small cabin, while his was on the beauty of the land that surrounds it.

The dreams of our youth can easily be drowned out by the stress and busyness of life. Simple pleasures are overrun by our quest for success and material wealth. I know it was for me. It took a few years to reboot my hard drive and learn the attitude of gratitude. But now, as I tend the garden and fill my tiny kitchen with canning implements, I remember a simpler time spent in my grandparents’ garden and I am content. More than content—I’m filled with joy.

Now it’s your turn. Have you a need to resurrect a childhood dream that may have been buried by the fast-paced, media-drive lives that tend to define us?

One thought on “Childhood Dreams

  1. Jennie,
    Grandma and Grandpa’s gardens are wonderful memories I carry with me as well. I learned so much from them. My gardening efforts are not nearly as good, but I grew my berry plants and my granddaughter now looks forward to picking berries. We don’t have enough to can, but we enjoy eating them fresh from the bush. It is gratifying to know that I can carry a little bit of them on to her.

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