Tri-City Ledger -

By Earline Smith Crews
Guest Writer 

From the sweat of our brow we shall eat bread


April 2, 2020

I'm old enough to know what I'm writing about so allow me the pleasure.

What say you, old lady?

We Crews' have planted and shared garden bounty for almost all our 56 plus years of married life. Our first few years we shared a garden with his side (Crews) of the family because we lived very near to them. My side (Smith) was gone to a better land, enjoying the bounty of whatever is allowed in Heaven. Anyway, except for a short time of early marriage (when we had no place to plant) until the year 2018-19, we made all the vegetables we cared to plant, harvest and eat. The excess of large amounts were shared with family and friends.

The CEO (Lamar) always did the planting and keeping of a pristine garden. He mostly harvested and then both of us would spread a sheet on the floor in front of the TV to stay entertained and cool with the thermostat being lowered for keeping us moving to shell tubs of peas to go into the freezer. I cannot remember ever not having plenty peas and okra pods waiting in our freezer. I learned early on to eat the vegetables as they ripened, but don't waste time and effort on freezing things we didn't care for after a short period of freezer time. Our preference got down to blackeyes, pink eyes and a few Mississippi brown crowder peas for long term freezing.

"Gotta freeze lots of 'em, they gonna eat good come winter."

"Huh, they gonna eat good, you mean peas eat good or we eat good?"

"Know what I'm say'in."

So time rolled, we ate well and life came knocking with health issues for myself on the form of a broken heart that gave me six stents to keep the blood pumping. Doctor advised I stay out of the sun and garden as much as possible. My spirit took a hit with the decision to have my beautiful flower beds cut out to allow easier lawn maintenance. The CEO kept toiling in his vegetable garden to have those peas frozen for winters good eat'in. He kept such a big place it took a toll on him physically and emotionally when he tried to give the bounty away and nobody wanted to be bothered with even accepting his offer. He came in one day to announce he was retiring from vegetable gardening and having all the food wasted. I felt his pain.

So the past two seasons came and went. We took vacations when we would have scheduled our travels around the garden harvesting. He turned the acreage back into pasture where he planted some really good grass. Last year I got a surprise by having an aneurysm removed from my stomach. A hard surgery, but a good recovery. I longed for digging in the dirt and watching the flowers bloom. My porch pots were about all I bothered with caring for.


Just like that, this spring COVID-19 brought the reality of our time here being unknown and how food may become more important than ever to us. The CEO announced he was going back to making a vegetable garden again. Make it smaller and closer to the house for convenience. He showed me where he thought the location would work best for him and also for using the tanks of rainwater he had collected. 3000 gals of free water for the turn of a faucet knob. Use all we needed while the rains would refill as weather permitted. My heart dropped about that far as I looked to see some of my favorite trees standing in the way. After a restless night of pondering and coming to the decision to allow the trees to be sacrificed for tasty vegetables, I was okay with it.

So, we prepped the plot, bought seeds and plants and worked sore into muscles that took all night to relax and flex again. He cautioned me to take it easy as I hacked down clumps of ginger plants and dug holes to drop in tomato, cabbage, onion and pepper plants, seeds of crook-necked squash, zucchini, and a surprise gift of a handful of heirloom climbing butterbeans from a cousin in Tennessee.

The CEO has planted Silver Queen corn and potatoes. He has seeds bought for peas and okra and whatever else that strikes his fancy. He installed an electric fence to deter the deer. We shall see if they can jump while the rabbits, bugs and worms compete for the most. We will spend time working and pondering out there in the fresh air and sunshine while we age out.

Why sit and wait for the end. It coming anyway, might as well be working for food. I made up my mind to do what I loved doing; and if Jesus calls me out while I'm out there in the dirt, then so be it. I am happy being back in the soil planting and making things pretty by planting new things and replanting flowers I have found in places that I had discarded into the woods line along the edge of the yard. I have packets of flower seeds that will be scattered and cared for while I pull weeds and grass away. It's gonna be so pretty.

For years I have watched for the old-school way of seeing beautiful collards planted along the walkway of country homes and in flowerbeds of old ladies in town. Nothing brings sweet nostalgia like seeing vegetables growing in amongst flowers and shrubs of yards that belong to folks that know the importance of good things to eat. I use my gardening to ease the pain of this horror of something that may take us all away on any day now.

Until then I'll keep digging and planting and thanking my Father for his blessing of my ability to get back to something I love. If I could offer one piece of advice to the younger generations, find a spot of dirt and plant something to give you food or the peace of mind found in the beauty of a flower. Make it a family affair. You may discover something that you never knew existed.


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