Saturday, June 30, 2007

How Your Garden Grows

I was looking through some of my digital pix tonight and found this one of the herb garden taken on June 3. Quite a change from how it is now that I posted a couple of days ago.

At some point things just go wild, and June in the time, obviously. I just posted that pic of the tomatoes and herbs a day or two ago so this really struck me when I ran across it. Hard to believe that's less than a month's time.

I grew up on a Kentucky farm, and we always had a big garden. I guess when you have a bunch of people to feed, you get pretty interested in a garden. My mom canned green beans and peas and tomatoes, and froze corn. We ate potatoes fresh from the garden and never thought a thing about it.

When I bought my house, one of the considerations was that I wanted enough land to have a little garden - nothing big - just a little garden. I adore fresh tomatoes and in the last couple of years have really loved having fresh herbs. It seems each year the garden gets a little larger. I don't think that's a bad thing at all, just curious.

Gardening used to be a necessity. Now it's more of a nicety. However, I've started to think of it as an esential. We are spoiled because we can go to the farmer's market, but not all of the things sold there are fresh out of the ground. We're fortunate because there's a large number of Amish and Mennonite farmers around here that still farm and bring their goods to the farmer's market. But there are also places that just buy the produce elsewhere and sell it at the farmer's market too. I can just go to the grocery store for that.

Thinking about gardening caused me to think about all the other things that are no longer essentials, but that we might all be better off if we did nonetheless. Think about how often you cook dinner compared to how often your grandmother did. I'm in the same category myself. I don't cook as much as my mother did, or as much as I would like to. But it's easy to go out to eat. It's social and it happens a lot.

We used to rest on Sunday. Even those who weren't religious rested on Sunday. Now we run like maniacs, trying to cram in more weekend time because we have no time during the week to take care of our lives. And, ironically, the people I know who are church goers seem busier and more frazzled on Sunday than those who don't go to church. I'm not sure when the "rest" part comes in - for any of us.

Why are we all running crazy all the time? There are still 24 hours in the day and people were working much harder 100 years ago than we are now. They found time for all kinds of things, so why can't we? We have dishwashers and laundry facilities and cooktops and yet we can't get it all done. They were hauling water and building fires and killing chickens.

There's something wrong. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but there's definitely something wrong.

Of course, I've always known about myself that I would have made a very good 1950s housewife - all except that answering to the husband part. Other than that I would have been excellent at it. Excellent, I tell you! I'm made to be a corporate wife or other such thing. I throw great parties, I'm a a good cook, I lunch with the best of them, I still write thank you notes - I would be so good at it in so many ways. I just am not willing to have no control over my life financially. It's too scary in a world where divorce rates are over 70% to let my future be determined by someone else. That has always been the problem.

I love the idea that one person in the couple is staying home to raise children these days, but I'm scared for everyone of them. If you're not being paid to stay home with your child, and can therefore save for your future - and that of your child's - in case of divorce, you have no financial standing. I know all about child support and alimony (a rarity these days), and I also know how much of it is owed. I just could not bring myself to be that trusting - especially not with a child's welfare at stake. Of course, no one ever thinks they'll get divorced. None of those 70% that did thought so either.

Well, I have meandered... no big surprise there... but I think I'll stop for the night...

Times Change

I have always loved old houses. I've always wanted to live in one. I've always wanted hardwood floors, and great woodwork and high ceilings.

I can remember telling someone once that when I bought a house I wanted hardwood floors. This was years ago and they looked at me like I was from another planet.

"You don't want carpet?!?"

"No! No carpet. Nasty stuff."

"Of course you want carpet. You just don't know..."

"Trust me, I know... it's nasty... put a rug down and walk on it for a week and it's filthy. Why do you think tacking it down on the edges so you can't clean it makes it get less dirty?"

"Oh, you want carpet... you'll see... you won't be happy without it..."

"No. I want hardwood."

Well, if like me you've been a long time lover of hardwood floors and other "old fashioned" ideas, are you not enjoying the fact that these same people who have sung the praises of carpet are pulling it out and slapping down plastic faux wood floors now? I can barely control my chuckles each time I hear that story. Yet again.

My sunporch downstairs didn't have hardwood - it was just subfloor. I was thinking about getting real wood to go in there - not plastic made to look like wood - but splurging for real wood. When I went shopping for it, every salesperson warned me not to - that if you could see old hardwood from the room with the new you'd never be happy with it. And these were people who stood to make some money from selling me the stuff.

They were in consensus so I put down slate tile instead. I'm very happy with it. It's a natural product - like the wood. And I think they're probably right. My old hardwood has a beautiful patina of age.

Everytime I walk on my hardwood floors that creak a bit here and there, and have imperfections after 100 years of use, I smile because I always knew they were the thing to have. The rest of the country is just catching up with those of us who have been in love with such things for a long time.