Whenever I garden I think about my dad. He was always out there in it. In summers he’d come home from work and loosen his tie, his crisp white short-sleeved shirt bearing muscular tan forearms. He’d get into a thin v-neck t-shirt and always the same pair of beige, cream and green plaid shorts. Sometimes he wore gloves, others not. In my mind he’s always boasting a shovel, as if it were some appendage.

My dad worked for hours outside, tending to a garden chock full of green vegetables and berries—potatoes, rhubarb, corn—you name it. I helped him weed and water mostly in silence. It was just nice to be near him, his tall strong body, like a sort of superhero. When he wasn’t in the garden he was up some tree pruning, or on a ladder doing the same. He harvested Bing cherry, Rainier cherry, pie cherry, plum, pear and apple. He canned the fruit, dated the jars and stacked them on dusty shelves in the garage for winter breakfasts. His chunky homemade cinnamon applesauce was served warm with vanilla ice cream melting into its spicy golden juices. My friends still reminisce about the aroma and taste.

Our yard had several rhododendrons and beautiful huge camellias sprouting robust flowers too perfect and creamy to be believed. My dad taught me how to deadhead the dried brown petals to spur the next year’s growth. He shared with me his love of the outdoors, the smell of pollen in the air, the free feeling of getting our hands, face and clothing filthy dirty and to put a little elbow grease—no ... a lot of elbow grease—into everything I did. Doing that made me proud. He shaped me into a hard working, productive human being and for that I am forever thankful.

And so, with spring ostensibly here, I find myself out in it, working the earth, tending the shrubs and flowers and trees, and my dad comes to mind—daily, hourly. His strength runs through my very bones and when I lay on the cut grass to rest with Calvin and we put our arms around each other, I am embracing my dad, my dad is embracing me ... and he is embracing Calvin.

photo by Michael Kolster

1 comment:

  1. Nice tribute to your Dad.

    Those were the good old days in Bellevue for sure. My Boeing Dad also had the same gardening habits and loved his cherry trees too. Its almost like I knew your family. Oh, wait... :)

    Love your writing Christy, I am sending your link to my friends to help spread the word.