Mary Beekman is a four-year-old ghost who resides in The Beekman Mansion, and considers Brent and Josh her “imaginary friends.” Follow Mary Beekman’s Diary each week to learn what it’s like to be a young child in early 19th century America

The early sky was gray this morning.  I did not jump from my bed quickly.  I spent some timetalking to Josh and Brent and my rag dolly.  I was telling them about April Fools Day.  I think it was yesterday or some time not too long ago.  Father whispered to me that he was going to send the boys to the barn to find a smoke sifter.  I giggled.  Smoke goes up so high, it could NEVER be sifted!!  He called it a fool’s errand.  When the older girls came home from school, they told us that the teacher said “Look! A flock of geese,” and the girls all looked high in the sky. There really weren’t any geese at all.*  I imagine they looked very foolish with their heads all tipped up. I warrant all the boys laughed. The girls come home peevish because they do not like to be tricked.

Mother is excited because yesterday she saw the D.Landreth Seed Co. poster with a list of seeds to be purchased. She saved many seeds from last year’s plants and she exchanges some with her friends. They fold them in paper packets to keep them dry all winter. She asked Father if he could obtain some zinnia seeds.*  No one else has them and she likes to be first.  He has a store at the corners and he said he would try.  I know she has some phlox and lilacs.  I heard her speak about a snowball bush.  I am not certain if that grows in the summer or the winter.  For aught I know, it is a pretend bush!  Maybe Josh knows about it.  I will ask him.  He and Brent never laugh at my

This year, I am to have my own garden.  I also will have my own tools that are my size.  I have a trowel, a weeding hoe, a spade, a grubbing hoe and a shovel. Father had to replace the handle on the trowel.  The old handle on the trowel was very rough and I got a splinter in my hand.  It was between my thumb and the next finger.  I was checking the trowel to make sure the handle was my size.  The new handle is very smooth and it won’t catch my skin any more.  I would like to plant some Johnny Jump Ups, Sweet William, Spearmint, Cucumbers and Sweet Basil.  I like Lavender also.  Mother said she would help me to decide.  She has a very big garden with lots of vegetables.  The boys help with that.  But this garden is just for me.  I hope a toad will decide to live there.

by Mary Beekman

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Nettie Grimes

We visited our local farm supply store when our kids were little. Rachel was 8 and Jacob was 5. Seed packets were on sale at 10 for a dollar. We gave each a dollar and told them to pick out anything they wanted to plant. Rachel picked 10 packets of flower seeds and Jacob picked out 10 vegetables. They're all grown up now and we don't have them here at home as much as we'd like any more. But their natures hold true and Rachel will still put fresh flowers on her table even for the simplest meals. Jacob still so practical and rooted in the earth.

You can teach a child the wonder of life in a very simple way. Give them a dried Lima bean (use food quality dried beans not seed quality as seed quality is coated with things you don't want to swallow ) and have them hold it under their tongue for about ten minutes. Now, you must tell them to sit very still and not talk. When you take out the bean, gently open it and you see the baby plant beginning to sprout inside. You can see the tiny root, stem and leaves. Perfect for the teaching of germination and the miracle of life.