Well, the calendar tells me it’s spring outside, but the snow weighting the tree limbs and coating the red crocus that recently got the nerve to stick their heads out to nod at us are telling me another story. We did have enough nice, warm sunshiny days a couple of weeks back, however, that got me leafing through flower catalogs and dreaming about summer bounty.
One day a local “everything from soup to nuts pharmacy type store” had a sale on seeds. Four packs for a dollar! Even though I had no idea where I would sow them, I couldn’t resist buying a dollar’s worth: okra (which needs hot summery sun and a long growing season), sweet basil, 2 packages of carrot, and mixed color cosmos.
Hope springs eternal. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. Nor stifle the pleasure of buying seeds (when they’re so cheap!) even when you know their fate will probably be worse than death under your brown thumb.The only excuse I have to offer is, it’s in the blood. To back my claim, I offer another of the LOOKING BACK series from One o’the Nine, my uncle’s story about spring planting.
I remember walking home from school in the afternoon in the late autumn and changing my overalls, then going to the kitchen for a cold sweet potato and piece of sow belly bacon or a biscuit that I would punch a hole in with my finger and filled with good cane syrup, and head for the corn field to break corn. Along the way we had to pass a persimmon tree and of course we had to stop and get us a few of the small, wild persimmons to eat along the way.
In the spring it was a different story. We had to get out of school in March to help plant the crops. I will always remember the old horse I used to pull the old Cole planter as we planted corn and peanuts. The horse’s name was Old Georgia, and was the worst horse I have ever known.
When the seed was beginning to run low in the planter I would stop at the end of the run to refill it. I had to leave the planter just long enough to dash over, grab a bucket of seed and dash back. You can bet while I was gone Old Georgia would move up just one step and turn the planter over, spilling all the seed that was left in it. I was so small, about all I could do was cry, pick up the spilled seed and go again.
Old Georgia had a habit of getting her foot out of the trace chain each time you turned around at the end of the row, and if you stopped to unhitch it to put her foot back inside, you could bet she would move just enough to turn over the planter, so I would just let her walk with her foot out and skin her leg.
In the spring and summer we always went barefoot when we plowed. There is nothing that can hurt worse than when you strip a briar or a nettle that has gotten hung up on your plow between your toes. Some of the black men that worked for us wore shoes, but they were cut along the sides and wired together with haywire.
Yup! Those were the Good Ole Days.
Postscript: I was involved in spring planting of tobacco, that dastardly weed without which my family would have had even fewer material things in our lives. Even a small child is quite capable to dropping one tobacco plant, about 4 or 5 inches long, down the throat of a tobacco planter, either the single, manual one, or the one that came along later that was pulled by a tractor, and two planters (one of which was me) sat side by side practically dragging along on the dirt taking turns plopping plants in the trench automatically dug and covered again by the contraption we rode along on. Those were the days before laws had been made about taking children out of school, so spring school attendance was sporadic at best. That would change a few years later. By then my father had given up on farming because I was eventually the last one left at home to help.
At least planting tobacco didn’t involve a cranky Old Georgia . . . and I’ve lived to tell about it. As Uncle said, those were the good ole days, no doubt because life was so simple then. And as a child you knew where your place in the world was: down at the bottom of the totem pole to be told by everyone older than you what you were to do. I feel compelled to add one thing more about that tobacco. Probably due to by vast experience with it, I’ve never had a desire to smoke it, because I can tell you–working with and in it was pretty yucky–tar buildup on my hands from the leaves that I know you would never want to have on your hands, let alone in your lungs. If you smoke, quit. It just ain’t a healthy thing.