I always assumed that because I was the only one from my family to pick up and leave North Carolina for the big city of New York that I was somehow different, not better mind you, just…mutant. Somehow a little twist on how my genome entwined during fertilization resulted in wanderlust and paved a double-helixed road leading straight out of town.
My mom and grandmother were visiting this week, and after they quickly surveyed the house to make certain that they had indeed taught me well, they quickly put their heads together to determine what else I needed to learn about the country life.
My grandmother grew up on a depression-era farm and, and my mom has spent the first part of her retirement years working at a plant nursery, so between them they are a wealth of information. My mom came toting wild persimmon tree saplings nursed on the clay soils of NC (and also two loaves of homemade persimmon bread). She also brought several small “ice plants” from her own flower beds and a citronella plant in an earthenware pot (having been forewarned about the cluster flies).
My mom sells glorious mums for $7 a pot at the local farmer’s market.
They arrived in the evening, and with what was left of the tomatoes that were harvested pre-frost, I made a delicious creamy tomato soup. (see if I made it through the 30 Days of Tomatoes)—devoured sitting next to the kitchen fireplace’s first glowing embers of the season. Proclaiming that goat manure makes for miraculous tomatoes, my grandmother later picked any tomato left on the vine with even a blush of red (an entire bushel basket) and swore she would eat on them until at least January. The vegetable garden, she said, was the most beautiful one she had ever seen.
We spent the weekend canning the rest of the season’s tomatoes, putting up 12 quarts of tomato sauce (in addition to 14 quarts of green beans) and making pickled green tomatoes.
We also picked up three bushels of windfall pears and apples and put them in the root cellar. In a couple of weeks, these will be taken to be pressed into cider. I’ll be sure to show you that process.
Before heading home, my mom loaded the car with 6 pumpkins of varying sizes, two bags of apples, spaghetti squash, the remnants of the carrot crop, and some horseradish root. I bartered the gifts from her garden by unearthing cornflowers, wild purple astors, brilliant orange cornflowers, collecting the seeds from the hollyhocks, and digging deep—and struggling mightily–to uproot a humming bird vine and some bleeding hearts. Now part of the Beekman will be in North Carolina, and part of the soil that nourished my childhood is nestled in the grounds of the farm.
Roots, you know, will wander and grow until they find the nutrients and moisture that they need. Even though I’ve branched out many miles from home, it’s comforting to know that my roots stretch for thousands of miles, and I seriously doubt that anyone, no matter how hard they try, will be able to uproot them.
“FROM” TRAIN REPORT:
The train was sold out. There was a college boy sitting in the seat behind me. For most of the ride he had his foot propped up on the back of my arm rest. The sole of his shoe had a hole in it so large, that I could also make out the hole in his argyle sock underneath. Yep, he is traveling far form home, giving his own roots the chance to snake and crawl, and become stronger.