Back Where I Come From, Day 21

Thank you, Suzanne Gunter McClendon, for this challenge. If you want to know what this challenge is all about, just click on Suzanne’s picture below.

Thanks for reading!

 

Day 21: Were there any flowers growing in your yard back home? What kind? Were you or your parents’ good gardeners?

The house I remember from my early childhood was surrounded by flowers. Mother had planted red, white and pink azaleas all around the front of the house and leading to the sidewalk. Every summer there was a riot of color and scent in the front yard.

In the backyard was a chain link fence separating our land from the neighbors, and she dug a two-foot wide garden bed around the entire fence.

In this bed was Iris of every color imaginable, daylilies, tulips, crocus, moss roses and several other plants I can’t quite remember.

I remember the colors, the differing heights of the plant stalks and the scents…just not all the flowers involved.  Mother refused to have a kitchen garden. No small plot of veggies or herbs for her.

I remember a first-grade gift…….our teacher brought seeds of various vegetables, some potting soil and dixie cups to school. We planted the seeds in the cups and watched them grow up to seedlings.  Then the Friday before Mother’s Day, we took them home as a gift to our Mothers. I was so proud that my tiny tomato plant had grown larger than the others and would soon be “grown-up” enough to bear fruit.

I was so proud that my tiny tomato plant had grown larger than the others and would soon be “grown-up” enough to bear fruit. I carefully carried it the four blocks home and presented the cup to Mother as soon as I walked in the door. Mother’s reaction was immediate and rather scary.

She turned beet red and I swear I could see steam rising from her.  She grabbed the plant by its stem and yanked it out of the cup.  I remember the cup falling onto the kitchen floor and spreading dirt all over and thinking how angry she would be at the mess.

She tore my little plant up into several pieces and threw it into the garbage.  The whole time she was destroying my plant she was yelling “I am NOT trash!”

It confused me horribly at the time.

My mother was raised during the Great Depression on a small peanut farm in North Carolina.  Her daddy had been working for the railroad but was laid off in 1929.  He brought his wife and four children to his daddy’s farm and attempted to make a living there.

My grandmother had a kitchen garden already in place and she grew all the vegetables for the family, then canned the bounty in the summer.  My Mother was put in charge of weeding and watering that garden at a young age.  And she hated it.

She hated everything about gardening and canning. She hated the heat and crawling on her knees searching out invasive plants that would smother out the vegetables. That garden was her endless job from the age of 4 until she went to college…and she swore she would never be so poor again as to have a kitchen garden.

I didn’t understand any of that though when I was a six-year-old.  I only knew Mother had destroyed my little plant, and when I objected by crying she punished me.

Her idea of a garden was vegetables for “poor or trashy people” and “flowers for people of stature”.  By bringing her a small tomato plant I had effectively told my Mother she was ‘trashy”.

5 thoughts on “Back Where I Come From, Day 21

  1. Thanks for sharing your memories. This one and the Mighty Mouse one. It must have been very confusing, never quite knowing what would set her off.

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    1. it confused me until the day she died. I never got it right.

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  2. That is so sad, Suze. It must have been so frightening and upsetting for you as a child. I am glad that you finally got to understand her reason for her unreasonable behaviour and got past it. I am so glad you can grow your own vegetables now and find funny faces on them too!

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    1. I have to go weed and harvest bell peppers this morning. I always find such peace in my garden and every now and then wish my Mother had done the same.

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  3. What very upsetting times for both of you. 😦 The depression was so difficult in a multitude of ways. Sometimes parents just don’t realize how much these things they see as grown-up problems affect little kids, and the effects can be devastating, affecting multiple generations.

    I am sorry that she had such a violent reaction to your sweet present. I think it sounds like a great Mother’s Day gift. When I was in elementary school, we sprouted potatoes. I didn’t know they were sweet potatoes (and I didn’t like those back then). When it came time for the bountiful harvest and my potatoes were orange, I got very upset about it. I think my folks thought it was funny. I don’t know what they did with the potatoes, but I know I didn’t eat any of them!

    Thank you for participating in the challenge. Have a blessed weekend. 🙂

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