Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Ahead of His Time
When I was younger, I didn't appreciate that my father had two large gardens in which he grew most of the vegetables that nourished my family. I was too busy complaining about having to weed the onion patch to be thankful. We also had an apricot tree and two apple trees. Ugh, how I hated picking up those rotten apples that fell from the tree. I remember that my sister, father, and I would take the apples to an Amish farm where they ran the apples through a press to make homemade apple cider. At harvest time, everything would be apples: apple butter, applesauce, apple cider, dried apples, and apple fritters. Now I'd do just about anything to get my hands on fresh apple cider and homegrown tomatoes.
Another one of my chores was to empty the compost bin. We had a plastic bin next to the sink (nothing fancy like today's models, it was just a large margarine container) and used it to collect banana peels, apple skins, and other food wastes. Anytime that bin was filled, day or night, it was my job to run it out to the edge of the yard, next to the garden, and dump it into the compost pile. And while I complained about having to do that in the winter, or in the dark, I did make sure to get my picture taken next to it before my parents moved from my childhood home to the retirement community.
I used to tell Dad he was embarrassing because he was so old-fashioned. But maybe, I'm starting to think, he was ahead of his time. He was composting, collecting rain water, growing his own food, and eating locally before it was even popular. I don't think he wasn't doing it because it was hip to be green, or because it was good for the environment. Rather, it was a way to feed his family and save money while doing it. Gardening was also his exercise and his therapy (which I'm sure he needed after having 6 kids.)
I'm writing this post to thank my father. There were a lot of great lessons that he taught me, and some of them I am just fully appreciating now. Of course, I'll have to print this and mail it to him. While he was ahead of his time on the above issues, he never did master computers and has never been on the internet.