(My mini garden helper)
Everyone has “their people” the ones that inspire them, mentor them and that they look up to (past or present). Sometimes (I think, USUALLY) they don’t even realize they are sowing the seeds that bloom into something substantial and possibly even help shape the people we become. I’m realizing the older I get (and especially now that I have my own child) that the expression, “it takes a village to raise a child” is more and more true. I’m sure at some point she will look back over her childhood and realize that some of the people she knows right now, helped to influence the woman she will someday become.
For me I was lucky enough to grow up having all of my grandparents still living. One of the commonalities they all shared was the belief that eating healthy and nutritious food was a way of life, not a trend or a fade or something that was cool-it was just was part of our life…whether we liked it or not. Both sets of my grandparents had gardens every year, didn’t eat many processed foods (wouldn’t let us either) and believed that family cooking and dinners were important. One set of my grandparents lived down the road from us so we were recruited to help them tend to the massive and many gardens that they had on their property, along with the ones at our house. As children we loved this and hated it at the same time (let me tell you, no matter what kind of “game” they made of weeding…it was still work). Every summer we spent several days rising at the crack of dawn, dressed in our long sleeve appearal to ward off bugs and hats to protect our baby faces from the sun as we embarked on a day of blueberry picking. We would load up in their car and every year my grandfather would laugh and tell us the same story, that the people at the blueberry farm were going to weigh us before and after we did our picking and charge him for all the blueberries we ate so we shouldn’t eat too many. I love those memories, I can still hear his laughter clear as day in my thoughts. This task of blueberry picking alone is one of my top treasured life experiences. We would pick until our hands were discolored and couldn’t move, but it was important to get the best ones because my grandmother would freeze the berries and use them all year for her town famous Blueberry Cheesecake. It is legendary still! She tried to teach me about a bizzillion times how to bake it (I never got it right, let alone close to how amazing hers was…I’m sure she was equally disappointed every time, but she never gave up on trying to teach me).
I wish I would’ve paid more attention to the things my grandfather would do out in that garden of his. He had a serious green thumb and people (random strangers) would occasionally stop by and ask if they could look around the garden and ask him or my parents to explain what we were growing. I realize now it was a huge compliment for them (at the time I was just annoyed that we were being interrupted by another random weirdo who was driving by and wanted to look at our vegetables or flowers, another person to be polite to-that I really didn’t want to be polite to).
Friends and clients ask me all the time where did I develop my hobby for gardening and cooking or what inspired my desire to try new foods. I blankly, sometimes thoughtlessly say, “my family I guess, they always had a garden and we were always cooking.” It wasn’t until recently that I realized how profound of an impact they all had on me. Nor did I realize how those days and years of getting my hands in the dirt, helping tend the plants, and fertilizing the rose beds with the fish we caught in the river behind our house, really helped to shape my soul and life. Having my own garden now, feels like I am somehow getting back to my roots or possibly it’s the product of the seeds my grandparents sowed over 25 years ago. It’s a beautiful thing to have something like this, that I enjoy doing and sharing with my daughter now. It’s like I mentioned in my first blog post (and I truly believe it-in my opinion food is one of the five things in life that really connect us).
(Grandpa Lukasak and his garden)
(Grandma Lukasak and her famous blueberry cheesecake)
(Grandpa and Grandma Scroggins walking with my daughter).