Pink beets and lilacs

I never learned how to clean house, just ask my Husband. I’m still trying to learn as I go. I still can’t figure out how to get corners and edges clean. I am always in awe when I go to houses and it looks like the builder just gave them the keys. How do they do that?

We didn’t have corners or edges in our house growing up. Mom will probably be upset if she reads this, so sorry Mom. Mom is a hoarder. I remember it gradually increasing as we got older. When Mom sold makeup, most of it stayed in our spare room. Then, it was mostly clutter. The clutter grew and grew because there was always something better to do like read, garden, nap, etc. Don’t think Mom didn’t work hard. We were up, dressed, fed, off to school and we had evening meals and entertainment in the evening. In the summer, she and Dad would plant a huge garden, at least a 1/4 acre. She would plan and shop seed catalogs in the winter and start seedlings to plant when it was time to get a head start on the season.

It wasn’t a meandering garden with walking paths and benches. It was a working garden. A garden that allowed us to eat fruits and vegetables in both summer and winter. There were mounds of potatoes, asparagus, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, sweet corn, radishes, lettuce of several varieties, beets, onions, cabbage, peas, and usually about 100 tomato plants. We had rows of blackberry bushes, apple trees, pear tree, cherry trees, rhubarb, and a strawberry patch that would take up about half the home I live in now. There was always something to plant, water, weed, pick, prepare or put up. Mom could grow anything. I can kill Aloe Vera.

I really do miss having the fresh vegetables and fruit. There is nothing like being able to walk out in the yard and eat a ripe tomato like an apple, or an apple like an apple for that matter. It all made me itch. Tomato vines and green bean bushes were the worst. I would have to go in and scrub down after helping with the garden. I have to admit I wasn’t a lot of help in the garden most times. I remember picking beets one year and cutting off the tops to wash the beets. If you know anything about beets, if you cut them, they bleed. We had pink pickled beets that year and I had pink arms up to my elbows for about a day.

Mom and Dad would stay out in the sun for hours. They could tan so easily. I never enjoyed the sun and heat. I would burn, peel and emerge just a pale with more freckles. As a kid, for those few minutes or hours I would help in the garden, I just knew that I was being subjected to the same punishment as a prisoner in a Mississippi chain gang. The good times were sitting under the huge maple tree just away from the garden in the cool, soft grass helping Mom shell peas. She would talk about helping her family with gardening and other stories and we would extricate the peas from the shells. That was a nice time. That is the only fondness I have for peas.

The one thing I was glad Mom collected was books. There was always something to read. We had collections of children’s books, classic stories, mystery novels, gardening books, drawers of old National Geographics, and a set of Encyclopedias I won from a grocery store one time. A lot of the books were in the stairwell room, which was my bedroom at one time and then there was a front porch room where we had a long shelf near the ceiling full of books. I had my bedroom in there one spring and summer. That was my favorite bedroom of all time.

The porch was a long, narrow room that was lined with casement windows along the front and two on the side. The walls were horizontal bead board with a dark stain. I had an old, full size, iron pipe bed frame that had been painted dark, but the paint had worn off and the metal was smooth. Dad got rid of that bed and I still am on the search for a queen size one to put in our guest room, just for the memories. My favorite cover was a chenille blanket. I still love chenille. Outside the room at the time was an old cherry tree and an old-fashioned purple lilac bush. In the spring, I would open all of the windows for the cool air and to hear the wind in the trees and burrow into multiple blankets to fend off the deep night cold. In the morning, I would awake to the birds beginning their morning routines and the sweet smells of the blooming cherry tree and then later, the perfume of the lilac flowers. I didn’t think life could get better and during those moments, it couldn’t and never did.


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