My Grandfather’s Topsoil

favasIn his very large garden in Keene, New Hampshire, my grandfather grew the most beautiful food. I grew up eating fava beans fresh off the growing plants. They were so delicious, I could not get enough of them. Taking the plump pod off the stem, I popped it open, fresh and hairy, and let the succulent peas enter my mouth. The taste was more than sustenance, it was a sweet etheric and physical sensation all at once. I felt the whole world, my whole ancestry, entering me as I ingested these pods of love. Most kids beg for candy but we, my five siblings and I, begged to go out to the garden and imbibe truth.

Did he enjoy seeing us do that? Did anyone know what it felt like to us? I have no idea. The sun was in those green droplets. The love was in those droplets. He, my grandfather, his hard working hands and thoughtful tending of the soil was in those seeds.

bleeding  heartsOn the way to the fava beans were the rows and rows of bleeding hearts bending their delicious heartblossoms toward our tender child calves. Directional arrows of pink and red hearts led us forth to the juicy faavs—as they were called in my family—the most eloquent jewels one could eat in the early spring.

Growing food for our families is so much more than we think. When you grow your own food, you put yourself, your love, your wisdom into it.  Literally, the family gets fed from you. It is so much more than growing food simply to satisfy hunger. When I ate the fava beans, and all the rest of the food he grew—the tomatoes, fresh and canned, in the pasta sauce every Sunday, the greens and the chard—I was receiving a transmission. These teachings live in my body, my blood still. He fed me and I grew from his soul food.

Now older, I know what it takes to maintain that kind of garden, the care and planning that goes into bringing a seed to fruition that your grandchildren eat. Then, to have the generosity to allow wild child energy to enter the neat and weedless rows of your deep hoe work to pick their own food, all of that now, I understand as a very great gift.

~Theresa C. Dintino




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