Clinton Magazine Summer 2022 | Page 4

a crisp green .

Maybe it ’ s seeing my lawn change over from winter ’ s brown hues to

Or hearing my dad talk about getting his crops in the ground and all it takes to get ready to plant and , of course , all the work and worry that he will cope with until this fall ’ s harvest payoff .
Or it could be noticing the tree buds busting out all over my backyard maple tree , the one that I have affectionately named Bob Ross because he is a happy little tree in a happy little world .
Whatever it is , it ’ s inevitable the rush I get whenever my eyes fall on the tall displays of seedlings packaged bright and beautifully in area stores this time of year .
Whenever one pops up - I never go looking for them - I am drawn to quickly scanning each row . The beans and carrots , lettuce and onions pictured on those little envelopes whisper unspoken promises to me . “ Drop me in the ground , cover me up , and I will bring you my best ,” they say .
I come from a long line of farmers , on both sides of my family tree ; Sunday afternoons growing up , we ’ d often visit aunts and uncles on their farms . Livelihoods depended on soil condition , rainfall totals , and temperatures in the spring and a lack of damaging winds in the summer .
I remember that at the same time corn and beans crops were dropping into the field , my mom was getting ready to get the garden in the ground . That happened when we lived on the farm and later when we moved into town and dad worked as a tool and die maker .
Just as running a tractor is in my dad ’ s blood , tending a garden and preserving the harvest is in my mom ’ s , just like it was in her dad and mom ’ s . The strongest memories
from the editor

Spring brings dreams of playing in the dirt by charlene bielema , clinton magazine editor

I have of my grandpa , and there are many , are centered around the large garden he maintained in retirement . It wasn ’ t just a small patch in the backyard ; instead , to me , it always appeared to be 10 times the size of your average in-town garden .
Potatoes were among his special crops and his advice was always to get your potatoes planted on Good Friday for the best luck .
He always had a huge harvest , and when we ’ d visit them , a bag of potatoes seemed to join us in the car for the ride home , as did strawberries , walnuts from the tree and cherries that we learned to pit with a large bobby pin .
Now mom and dad are retired and own a small farm where dad runs a tractor and plants crops while mom tends to a garden . Granted it ’ s smaller in size than it was 25 years ago - time has a way of telling us when to bring the goals down a little - but she still plants enough to eat straight from the garden and throughout the year from the freezer or the shelf . And it seriously is like a full-time job for her .
Me ? I did have a garden for a few years , but so much harvest work had to be done in August that it was too much to keep up with when I began working in the newsroom . So , I make summer visits to their farm and hear dad excitedly talk about planting efforts , market prices and his latest find at a farm sale . Meanwhile , mom - just like her parents did when she visited them - fills a grocery bag or two with green beans , onions and carrots and sends them home with me . Ditto for the old ice cream buckets that she fills with raspberries for us to enjoy .
And just like those beautiful seed packets , the scent of garden dirt on the vegetables emits an unspoken promise that one day I will turn over the soil in my backyard and remind me that even when I ’ m away from the farm , a part of it remains with me .
4 Clinton Magazine Summer 2022