Summertime has always meant sun, dirt, and mud to me. It means longer days. Most of all, Summertime means abundance.
One hot Summer day, Mom decided to get my two sisters and me out of the house. She took us out to the faucet and showed us how to make mud pies with dirt, a bucket, water, and a stick. It had to be just the right consistency. If the mud was too thick, you couldn’t handle it. If it was too thin, it just made a mess. But if you were careful, you could get that mud just right. Then you could set it in the sun to bake. After that, you could cut it, lift it out of the pan, and serve it on a lovely leaf plate.
What fun! We made a pie. We made another pie. We made ten pies. Twenty pies! We made softer pies, with rocks inside, and called them casseroles. We made smooth pies that we called flatbread. We baked those in margarine lids. If we turned it out at just the right time, when it was hard but not crumbly, we could slice it just like bread.
We dreamed up more things. We dropped coals from dying campfires into water (they really bubbled) and called them, for some reason, French-fried sausages. We collected old pieces of red shingles for bacon. We gathered white sand for salt and black ashes for pepper.
We gathered load after load of corn leaves and soaked them in water-filled jars, pretending to can. Dad’s shed had quite a smell the next day! We gathered piles of milo seed for “berries.” We set up three playhouses instead of one. We dusted our houses again and again.
And the years flew by.
And now I am here in my own farmhouse, growing my twentieth garden. I’m still not very good at it. My okra never grows huge and lovely, my cucumbers get too huge and fat, and I forget to water and pull the weeds. But there are days of sun and dirt and abundance.
One year, I filled the sink several times with fresh green beans. Another year I had two laundry baskets full of carrots. Yet another year, I braided long strings of onions and hung them up in my basement.
Every Spring, I bring the first pot of beets to the table.
Every Summer, I cook a few meals with almost every dish picked fresh from the garden.
Every Fall, I take my favorite little spade and turn over the soil, searching for potatoes. I find one, and another, and another. I fill up one bucket and run for another. Then I make my way through the prickly raspberry bushes and pick pail after pail of raspberries, fresh and soft in the sun.
And you know what? It’s almost as good as that flatbread, expertly sliced. It’s almost as fun as bucket after bucket of soaking corn leaves.
It’s Summer. It’s sun. It’s abundance. ❖
This article was published originally in 2023, in GreenPrints Issue #134.