Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 340 - Happy Birthday

My Grandpa would have been 105 today.  One of at least 7 kids, he left school at around age 12 when his father died, so he could go to work to help support the family.  He never graduated from high school, but was a voracious reader and self educated in a variety of areas.  The picture above is from my parents wedding in 1960, that's my Grandpa on the right.  He would have been about 54 at the time.

An avid gardener with his own heated greenhouse, he encouraged his grandchildren to plan their own gardens and pored over the seed catalogs with us every winter while we schemed about what we wanted to try.  He taught us how to prepare/mix our own planting medium and start the seeds in the greenhouse even while there was still snow on the ground.  We learned how transplant seedlings and harden them off to get them ready to transplant to the garden after the danger of frost had passed. 

He encouraged us to try to wildest things. I remember the years that we decided to try grow peanuts.  We live in Ohio.  This is not a state known for peanut production.  But we studied what information we could find and picked a variety with a relatively short growing cycle.  We were so happy when we dug them up and actually had something to harvest.  We dried them, then roasted them in Grandma's oven.   It wasn't an earth shattering amount but we had actually grown and roasted our own peanuts and we had something that we grown with our own hands to give Dad for Christmas that year.  Before organic/no pesticide gardening was ever a concept, we were mixing smelly African marigolds with the green beans in an attempt to discourage bean beetles.  Dad was taking over planting and maintaining the garden about that time and was a bit skeptical about the whole thing, but went along with it anyway.  

When I was bored one summer, I decided to tear my bicycle completely apart and put it back together, just to see how it worked.  He supervised and helped when I needed it, but for the most part let me figure it out on my own. 

Basically he supported  us in what ever thing we decided to explore.  He's been gone since 1980.  I was a sophomore in high school and in truth he had been gone for about 6 months before his heart finally gave out that spring.  One of the last things we did together before he got sick that last time was plant Queen of the Night black tulips along his driveway and outside the window where he sat and watched the birds at the feeders.  When I bought my own house in 1991, one of the first things I planted was Queen of the Night tulips along my front walk and they are still there every spring. When I look at my yard and garden I know that I am definitely my grandfather's granddaughter.

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