I did a lot of my growing up at my grandparents' house. Twins games on the radio, sharing peanuts with the squirrels, eating Tombstone pizzas for dinner while watching Wheel of Fortune. The Price is Right followed by The Young and the Restless followed by the news at noon. And, during the summer, gardening. Snipping bits of my grandma's mint and chewing on it, poking at the fat peony flowers that were covered in ants, whirlybirds from the maple trees and stepping on the hard little acorns from the trees out in front. And the tomatoes. Oh, the tomatoes. My grandpa loved his tomato plants. The cucumbers came in a close second, but those weren't as interesting to my young eyes. My grandpa loved those tomatoes each summer and they responded with kindness. Their little fruits lined the kitchen windowsill and my grandma and mom would just pop them into their mouths. This is where you're probably expecting me to tell you about how their love for tomatoes passed to me but, no way, Jose, those things are SICK. I hate them. They are little little zits that pop in your mouth, warm and mushy with little tiny seedy bits. No thanks.
But here I am, pushing 34 and living in the same house where I used to sit in the garage with my grandpa on a little stool, listening to the Twins and tossing sunflower seeds to the birds. Those same stools still hang in the garage and I'm now teaching my own kids to feed the great-great-great-timesamillion-grandkids of those same squirrels who used to run up to my grandma and take treats from her hands. I plant tomatoes in the same spot my grandpa did, the wood is still there but it's in desperate need of repair. I just can't bring myself to do it. I have mints living throughout the garden, I just keep mine in pots in the ground now, to curb their greediness. The only thing that has changed is that we ripped out the nasty rust colored evergreen bushes along the south side of the house. The summer after we did that, a peony bush popped up in the same spot I remember poking at those ants so long ago.
I was hugely pregnant early in the spring and chasing a toddler around shortly thereafter, with a newborn strapped to my chest. I was a mess and the only reason the garden did anything was a mix of J's help getting everything off to a good start and the perennials I planted in preparation last fall. I watered like a fiend in the early summer because I was on maternity leave but, once I went back to work, I rarely got outside. The minute the weather turned colder, I ripped out the tomatoes and the cucumbers and the pumpkins. I went out to look at everything today and I honestly couldn't remember the last time I had watered everything. And so I did. Eli came up to help, just like he did during the summer and I caught a glimpse of what I hope what will be next summer. Two mobile (I'm looking at you, little Sam) toddlers? I cannot wait. We can show Sam how to feed the chipmunks and bunnies and each boy can have their own little piece of the garden. Maybe a little baseball on the radio, too. Eli will grab a tomato off of the vine and pass it to his little brother, just like my their great grandma and grandma used to do when I was their age.