In the garden. For better or worse

By N.A. Booko

Pittsboro, NC – In the mid 1970s, once a month I would drive from my home in Chatham County over to Biscoe. My birthplace. I had two aunts that were old and occasionally needed somethings done around the house and yard.

person holding a green plant
Photo by Akil Mazumder

One thing I did every spring, was load up my heavy garden tiller, bags of lime and fertilizer; drive over there and plow a garden for them. My Aunt Annie was the true Gardner. Her sister Mable was more into shrubs and the like. Of course, Annie wanted her garden “laid off.” This is an old term I am thinking really means the  rows are shaped and ready more or less to be planted.

The soil was not ideal. It was land that I had known as a child to be just pure ‘po-dunk’, meaning wasteland. Stone heaven. Clay lumps and prehistoric weed seeds just waiting for someone like me to excavate them and let the world see just how tall they could get, standing on their own against modern civilization.

Her garden always grew  and produced bounty. Her beans, ‘hand-me-downs’ from five generations, were the talk of the town. No matter what, Annie was out there in blazing sun hoeing, watering, picking and always telling herself  “spect I better do just one more row.”

One day a relative drove by and saw Annie out there in the blistering sun- She quickly rushed home and called Mabel on the phone “One of these hot days you are going to find your sister Annie dead out there, in the garden, in this hot sun! Mabel didn’t miss a beat ” Well, she will have died happy.”

I guess maybe I have inherited some of Aunt Annie’s genes. I too can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt, checking overnight growth, talking to the little ones, searching for a weed that dares to set foot in this part of Chatham. I’m not a postman, but most times, rain, sleet, nor the dark of night keeps me from at least looking and touching something that is growing.

Judging from the amount of cuttings and rootings I am doing right now, next year is going to be a good year. I gotta believe that. You should too.

BTW, I’ve planted a couple of seeds in the above. .