Monday, May 16, 2016

Planting Seeds ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Planting seeds. That’s something I have done for most of my life. Before starting to school, Grandma Watson (my great grandmother) lived next door, and I visited almost every day. My mom would stand on the front porch sipping coffee while I meandered the few hundred feet to Grandma Watson’s house.

During the last days of winter, Granny studied the almanac almost as much as her Bible. And when the signs were right, and the danger of frost had passed, she began planting her garden in the side yard. She planted corn, butterbeans, peas, beets, onions and potatoes.

On every surface of her east-facing front porch, she had herbs, lettuce, and flowers that sent the hummingbirds into a feeding frenzy.

By fall, every shelf in her kitchen and pantry was loaded with mason jars filled with fruit, berries, and vegetables that she’d canned. When light from the autumn sun came through her windows, it turned her kitchen wall into a kaleidoscope of color.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but in a sense, she is one of the ones responsible for my love of planting seeds.

Jilda’s childhood was much like mine and her grandmother Mamie was good at planting seeds too. We have flowers in our yard today that Mamie planted over 50 years ago.

During the lean years when we first married, we grew a lot of the food we ate in summer: tomatoes, onions, peppers, and potatoes. We ate like royalty even when the money was thin. We often had enough to share with our neighbors in the “trailorhood” where we spent the first 10 years of our marital bliss.

These days, we get an early start planting seeds in small containers on the floor by our south-facing garden door. Even when it’s too cold to sow outside, we plant our seeds inside.

I’m convinced there is no better reward for the backbreaking work it takes planting a garden than bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with mayo on toasted bread.

I thought of this topic this past week when we told a friend about the scholarship we do each year for a Dora High School senior. We explained that we ask the candidates who plan to attend college to answer several questions about what they want to do when they grow up. We make our selection based on their answers.

The friend looked thoughtful for a long while before saying, in a sense, you are planting seeds. It took a moment to make the connection, but I realized what she was saying.

An investment in the education of a young person is investing in the future. Unlike a garden, education sometimes takes years to take root. Sometimes it doesn’t but often it does.

Some of the early recipients of our scholarship did well in college and landed meaningful jobs. Some are still in school.

But long after we’re gone, I’d like to think the seeds we’ve planted were a kaleidoscope of talent that helped make this world a better place.


  1. Very good article. I wish I had a greed thumb, mama had one and could grow most every thing, she always said, "You love a plant too death."
    I promise to do better if I ever retire. LOL

  2. And the seeds you plant will plant seeds of their own.

    1. Anonymous10:12 AM

      Hopefully, ad infinitum!!

  3. These days I tend to enjoy the benefits of the roadside fruit and vegetable stands rather than planting my own, but there is a lot of benefits to planting your own for sure.

  4. Wonderful analogy, Rick. Methinks this would be more meaningful than most graduation speeches ... and better received!

  5. You had me at BLT.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed the past, present, and future of this article. Time marches on. Everything old is new again. The circle of life. Enough cliches. You know what I mean.


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