“Daddy, Daddy, wait for me, Daddy!”
I abandoned my beloved dolly, throwing her aside. As fast as skinny little legs and knobby knees could follow, I ran to catch up with my father who was headed to the plot of earth that had been hidden by the long, snowy winter.
As I look back to my childhood days, many memories play across the screen of my mind like an old black and white movie. Oh, but this one is special because I was in a leading role with the leading man! I do not tire of the reruns, for it is one of my favorites. I call it “Me and Daddy’s Garden.”
He waited for me to catch up, and then we walked together. I felt so happy as I looked with squinted eyes towards the brightness of the sun which had come out of winter’s hiding. Early in the morning, it felt so nice to have its rays caressing my tender child’s skin; at first a gentle kiss of pink warmth and by day’s end a bite of burning red!
I remember the smell of the dirt…at first a faint musty, dusty odor. Then after Daddy would add his secret, magic stuff to the soil, there was a stink in the air everywhere! Although I did not like the smell, I thought he was amazing and magical. Really, how else could those little tiny seeds grow to become such colorful, tasty foods lovingly prepared by Mom? Not only would she cook the garden food, she would also can jars and jars of the harvest to enjoy through the winter. That was her starring role in “Me and Daddy’s Garden” and it was a delicious one!
Of course I knew that Daddy could not possibly do all this work without my help, so I was always ready to assist him with my little shovel and sprinkling can. I felt so important. “Good thing Daddy has me to help him put all these seeds in. There must be a million, zillion seeds!” I thought. So with seeds in hand, all different sizes and shapes, he would show me the proper way to place and space them. Yep, we had a lot of work to do, but I think he had as much fun as I did because he was always smiling.
Sometimes, though, I would tire of all the spring seeding and summer weeding in our garden. My own little plot of earth a few feet away under a big, shady tree was so enticing to play in. I knew Daddy wouldn’t mind if I left the garden for a while because he knew that I was going to make him a most delicious pie of, well…dirt! Grabbing a little bowl and spoon from Mommy’s kitchen, I would run back to my shady cooking area and with great excitement go to work on my pie recipe.
Ingredients were abundant all around me. Dirt and water mixed together makes a very nice crust, unless you use too much water -- then you have to add dirt. When the crust is just right, smoosh it down into the bowl and now you are ready for the pie fillings. If you can find a green stem with tiny pink berries all the way up, they are the best. They drop down into the crust if you start at the bottom of the stem, then squeeze the berries between your thumb and finger and zip them off all the way up the stem! Little pebbles make the best nut filling, and dandelions make a delicious yellow-lemon pie. Now you put the pie in high grass and bake for about one minute. I don’t remember Daddy eating the pies right away because he said he was too busy in the garden, but the way he fussed over them, I knew he ate them later.
Yes, it is a blessing for me to recall those times with my father in the garden. It was there that something more important than corn, beans, peppers, and strawberries grew…the love between a daughter and her father grew there.
These days, there aren’t so many gardens and sadly, not as many fathers who spend time with their children. I would urge dads to plant a garden with their children. Happiness and love grows abundantly when you do, just as it did with me and my daddy.
It is said that “He who plants a garden works hand in hand with God.” Oh, how I miss you Daddy and all of our gardens. I can imagine you now in a heavenly, lush garden filled with luscious fruits. In your new home, I am sure that you are one of the “Master Gardeners”, indeed working hand in hand with God. Someday I will join you once again in the garden and make you a divine mud pie!