Posted in Writing

Half-Naked and Picking Weeds


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When I was a little girl we had this huge garden running alongside our house on Mockingbird Lane. Mornings and evenings when the heat was bearable we’d pull the weeds and collect our bounty in baskets. I can still feel the prickle of the cucumber stems and smell the pungent scent from plucking the tomato off the vine.

            My sister, Tricia and I labored in our underwear. The sun-browned our bodies to the color of mahogany and we’d moon Granny our bright white bottoms because she’d laugh so hard tears spilled out of her eyes. We didn’t have air conditioning in our home until I was almost a teenager. Daddy clutched the coins and feared a high electric bill. In case you’re unaware, summers in the Tidewater area of Virginia can get extremely hot and sticky.

            We didn’t have a microwave either. Momma feared her children would glow in the dark from the radiation. She was a purist when it came to feeding her brood. Most of our food was homemade for she didn’t like preservatives. While Tricia and I raided our cousin’s house for the Pop Tarts. No amount of begging in the grocery aisle would make my Momma cave.

            “That’s junk!” she’d said. “Do you want your poop to turn green? I’ll bake you a banana bread instead.”

            Momma was a firm believer in the color brown, brown eggs, brown bread, brown cereal, brown poop. She was obsessed with us having a good BM (Bowel Movement) every day. This obsession peaked in her wheat germ phase. As I sat guarding my mashed potatoes like a dog over a bone, and hoping Daddy would hurry up… for all things good and decent in this world… and say the blessed blessing so I could get in a few bites before she came around with that jar of brown granules…splat! It was too late, my potatoes were healthy-matized brown.

            “There! Now you’ll get a good cleaning out,” she’d said.

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            I can still picture Momma clad in a halter top and shorts standing by the hot stove. Her dark hair piled on top of her head, while her brown skin glistened from perspiration, cooking up dinner or canning the cucumbers. Without air conditioning, summer meal preparation was a true labor of love. It probably explains why Momma’s lost the joy of cooking today.

  I suppose my nostalgia stems from just returning from taking care of Momma after her surgery. Time has a way of turning the table. I was the one standing by the stove cooking the meals albeit in a nice cool kitchen.

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             I haven’t written in a while because I’ve gone through an extended season of illness. I had Influenza B, then strep invaded our home, after that a dear friend named Vanessa who’s been battling brain cancer took a turn for the worse, followed by my trip to Virginia to take care of my parents.

            Meanwhile these last two months, I’ve felt half-naked in the scorching heat picking through weeds while they keep popping up through the soil of my garden.

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            Speaking of gardens, we’ve entered the garden season at the farm. The land is plowed and planted. The families on the farm are pitching in, to weed and harvest. We are then going to learn to can the produce in an assembly-line fashion. I’m surprised I’m excited about this, and yes, for all those dirty minds out there, I wear clothes when I garden now. (Farm friends you can thank me later…Ha!) Our last attempt at gardening, we ended up with vegetables rotting on the vine, that eventually sank into the earth and fertilized the soil.

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            Lately, I’ve thought about times we feel like that, the times we feel God out of reach or not answering our prayers, the times we think He’s neglected us, left us drooping on the vine. If only we could peer into the future and see our rotten times just may be the fertilizer in someone else’s life, would we be more willing to allow ourselves to be bruised… to feel neglected? 

            I imagine Vanessa feels that way as she lies in her hospital bed suffering from seizures. There were times my sister Tricia felt as if God left her dangling on the vine during her battle with breast cancer, but her rotten part revived the heart soils of those around her.

 

            The older I get the more thankful I am for the rotten times. I hated my sister’s suffering, but it was through it my husband strengthened in his walk with God. It was through it, we all strengthened our faiths in a God who’s sovereign and holy. My sweet Tricia passed away in the winter of 2014.

            When vegetables rot on the vine, they not only fertilize the soil, but their seeds fall into the earth as well. After the vegetables have been long forgotten, a new shoot springs up from the earth. Lately, I’ve witnessed one of Tricia’s seeds in the green faith of Vanessa.

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( To be continued…)

Author:

I am a Christian wife and mother of four children. I love writing, painting, ministry, and turning a house into a home. I live full time in Orlando, Florida, but write and paint at my farmhouse buried in the south. Welcome to Outdoorsy!

9 thoughts on “Half-Naked and Picking Weeds

  1. Hi Tammy! Jay sent your blog to me. It was a blast to read. I have subscribed and look forward to the next one. Jay will be able to tell you who I am after reading this. I actually met Tricia and your boys at a race in Daytona! She was wonderful! I have also have been keeping Vanessa in my prayers. It is a hard thing to watch this process unfold. I was with my mother during Alzheimers and my father with Leukemia. But God has given us the grace to move forward. My prayers will be with Vanessa and her family as well as those close to her.

    My grandparents had a farm in Webster, Fl. that is just a little NW of Orlando. Granddaddy was a preacher and a successful farmer. I remember the hogs and chickens, all the fields of corn. He had sugar cane and old mill that a mule turned. (I got to ride on the mule) We got our baths in a tub on the back porch. Grandaddy did let my grandmother have a window a/c for the kitchen.

    I also went to a camp on the banks of the Suwannee River. We sat on the porch and watched the river run by. My friend’s grand father built it up. He was a minister. My friend’s father was the minister at that time. You know what they say about preacher’s kids….. it was all true. We had a blast. There were several log cabins, a kitchen cabin with a large covered outdoor area for seating etc. On the base of and old fireplace sat the “Dinner Bell”. It had to have once been a church bell because it was huge. We fought over who was going to ring it and ring it the loudest. What great times.

    Thank you for your story. You invoked some old memories that I cherish. I have to revisited them more often. Your story really brings home that we need to make the best of what God has given us this day. Show kindness, help others and live by example. I look forward to one day meeting you. Give Jay my best.

    Blessings

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    1. I loved reading this! Thank you for taking the time to reach out. Yes, it is nice to remember those simple times in our childhood. I hope my own kids have memories like that. We try not to entertain them too much. On the farm, they explore and build memories in nature. Thank you so much for reading.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful stories. Such sweet, precious memories. Praying for your friend for His grace. Love you.

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