Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Panty Plant

Mom, Chris and Jerry


Mom was a gardener. One of those . . . mmmajor gardeners. I’m almost certain that her garden produced enough to feed the entire country of England . . . or Russia . . . or the entire southern hemisphere . . . or . . . someone stop me! And because Mom was a gardener, her kids were gardeners, albeit reluctant ones. On any given day, you could find one bonneted head and several blonde towheads bent over the various plants, being more or less productive. We all had our assignments.

I was four. My job was to watch.
Oh, and eat peas.
Our family produce patch covered about 2 acres, give or take. The rows were probably about 40 feet long, but to a four-year-old, they stretched to Argentina. (I didn’t exactly know where that was, but it had a sort of far away-ish sound to it.) The patch was surrounded by pine trees. Tall, lush, they had been planted by my father in his youth – now that is a story – and now provided perfect shade for a small body who wanted to be out with the others but suffered from a short attention span.
So there I sat, whiling away the hours. Mostly, I lay on the cool grass and made life miserable for the ants and other small, harmless creatures. But deep beneath the overhanging branches of the towering pines were patches of dirt. And I discovered that it was fun to dig in that dirt and – don’t tell my mother – plant things.
But what would a four-year-old have to plant? All pea seeds had gone into the mouth. Hmmm. The pods were there. That was a no-brainer. But that only took a short while. What else? Shoes? Those had been kicked off when I had first hit the garden and were now lying abandoned in one of the rows, waiting to be discovered by the roto-tiller. Taking stock, I discovered that my feet were at least partially covered by . . . ahem . . . white socks. They slipped off easily. A little furrow in the dirt and voila! A perfect place for a future ‘sock tree’. What else. The gardening bug had hit. I just had to plant! I just had to plant!
My mother had tried to instil in me the need for modestly, so removing anything obvious, like blouse or skirt was not even considered. What else did I have that I really didn’t need? I had it! Panties. And cute, blue ones, with little darker blue flowers. They would produce something lovely, I was sure! Off they came, and into the little trench dug specifically for them. I patted the dirt into place. Perfect. Job completed, I crawled out from under the tree. Mom was down the row of beans just in front of me, sitting back on her heels and waving her bonnet in front of a flushed face. She turned and smiled at me. Obviously, she had noticed nothing.
Feeling giddy with a sense of accomplishment, I joined her, offering to help pick the beans. She nodded gratefully and I squatted in my abbreviated skirts to begin.
I don’t remember what was said. Only a gasp and then strong hands propelling me unceremoniously back to my ‘garden’ and ordered to dig up every article buried there. I stared up at her, aghast. The whole garden? Mentally. I tallied them up. Hats, tools, shoes, George’s new toy, my new toy, a couple of books, several spoons.
With an aggrieved air, I began to half-heartedly push at the dirt, only to uncover . . . nothing. No clothes, no toys, not even one spoon. I dug deeper. Still nothing. Where could they be? I crawled out from under the tree and stared up at it. Was I in the right place? I looked at the tree next to it. Surely. How could I be mistaken? Back into my ‘hidden garden’ which, incidentally, was becoming more hidden by the minute. We never did recover the things I had buried, though my mother turned up the dirt beneath every tree surrounding the garden. Where could they have gone? We’ll never know, now, but if being a successful gardener means planting things, I am an expert. If it also means that something is supposed to grow, I’m not.
Hmmm. Burying things. So they’ll never . . . NEVER be found. It sounds as though my mother was really training me for . . . piracy. Or mob work. Who knew?

1 comment:

  1. how cute. i love your writing style. Thanks for sharing at NOBH!

    ReplyDelete

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