In 1973 when my family moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, we rented a house that had a walled garden. I found this fascinating since we never had a garden before, to my knowledge. From our back yard, you went through a gate and down a set of wooden steps to a platform. To your left was a huge expanse of dirt, and the walls surrounded you. At the opposite end, there was another set of wooden steps that went up to a gate that opened onto an alley. During the two years we lived there, our table was graced every fall with fresh vegetables from our garden. The following poem from How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver describes how our first attempt at gardening was rudely interrupted.
In the Garden
There are no trees, just an expanse of dirt.
While Mother and Dad work, I sit on the steps,
study seed packets of peas, corn, tomatoes,
read the labels, gaze at the pictures.
I’m only twelve.
In the distance, sirens wail.
“It sounds like fire engines,” says Dad.
In the house, the phone rings.
I hurry to answer it.
A male voice asks for my mother.
I rush outside, call her to the phone,
“Oh my god! We’ll be right there.”
“Ed, we need to pick up Andy at the police station.
He was playing with matches near that shack
at the bottom of the hill when it caught fire.”
The garden is abandoned.
What are your memories of gardening when you were growing up? Did you help your father or mother plant a garden? Did you grow flowers, vegetables, or both? Please feel free to share your memories by leaving a comment below.