Saturday, August 18, 2007

Happy Memories - The Garden


There was a time, I think it was while I was in high school, that at least economically there was stability. My mother had bought a house and it had a small backyard and grapevines. Most houses in that area had grapevines, as the original founders were old-world Italian. In the basement was a huge circular cement slab – the remnants of a press. There were two types of grapes – green and purple. My friends and I harvested them like thus:

One of us would hold the long-handled garden clippers and look for bunches. When she had placed the clippers around the stem, we’d call to the other who would stand under the bunch, look up, and hold out a bag. Then the person would snip, the grapes would fall, half would land in the bag and the rest bounce off the person holding the bag. We’d laugh, toss grapes at each other, and pick up those we could salvage. This would continue until we tired or the bag was full.

The trick to getting a good harvest is to prune, prune, prune those branches. Every November I went out with the giant clippers and cut back all the long winding branches. Then, I’d weave them into wreaths. At first it was just a couple for the house, then I started making them for all the older women at church. My mother would drive me to the craft store and I’d buy ribbons and little ornaments to decorate the wreaths. When my mother saw how much the ladies loved them, she started helping me buy the ribbons.

My mother had planted rhubarb in the backyard, claiming they are the heartiest and grow in any soil. I loved being able to just go outside, grab some rhubarb, clean it off, and then either dip it in sugar to sweeten it or suck on the sour stalk. I learned how to make strawberry-rhubarb pie, as that was my mother’s favorite. I’d use a pre-made crust and tapioca mix to thicken it. That was all it was – strawberries, fresh rhubarb, tapioca mix, and the piecrust.

One summer I really wanted sunflowers and so my mother bought me the seeds. They grew over six feet tall and there was so much pollen golden powder collected on the leaves. All the bees came to our yard and left so loaded we could see their pouches. The stalks were thick, like trunks, and after the harvest we were never able to get them all out after the season. When the time was right, I cut off all the sunflower heads and brought them to the attic to dry out. Once dry, I got all the sunflower seeds out and boiled them in salt, then baked them. Everyone in our church and neighborhood had fresh sunflower seeds that season. There were bags and bags of them. That was the only time I had sunflowers, as my mother and brother both have seasonal allergies and it was too much pollen for them.

4 comments:

Amel's Realm said...

AWWWWWWWWWW SUCH LOVELY memories!!!

LUCKY LUCKY LUCKY to have had grapevines and I LOVE sunflower seeds. In Indo there are lots of different types of sunflower seeds sold as snack at the supermarket. Boy, I miss them!!! ;-D

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Ooooh, you've taught me a thing or two here - I have a very poorly vine I must start to prune! As for the rhubarb, I've literally just snapped poor hubby's head off this morning for suggesting he might harvest some today (I've enough on with making the Sunday roast, forget the pie)!

I didn't know you could weave wreaths from vines, I'll give that a go, too! (Grin)

Amel's Realm said...

Today I'm feeling SO HAPPY so I just want to share HUGS with you!!! Hope your weekend went well, Vic!!!

May joy and peace be with you...;-D

HUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGSSSSSSS!!!!

Victorya said...

yeah! thanks for the hugs amel (hugs) There is nothing like fresh rhubarb and grapes, boy do I miss that!

Shrink - go for making the wreaths! I loved it, so nice and calming even if I did get cold as I was banished to do it outside as those little curly q's flew all over the place, then I'd use them to help reinforce the wreath. I love grapevine wreaths!