My vegetable garden has been a success this year. Hot days and a drink from the sprinkler once in a while has led to productive rows of lettuce, Swiss chard, beets and beans.
I was out picking beans early one morning before the heat of the day snuck around the fir trees and it seems that a quiet garden is a peaceful place indeed.
As I looked over the rows of green leaves and the full bushes, an old adage popped into my mind, ‘Be contented when you have got all you want.’
The reason I’m out here picking early is a lesson learned long ago.
My parents had large flower and vegetable gardens that were the envy of neighbours. When it came time for vegetables to be picked, they had three boys to do that.
Often, on a summer morning, Mom would tell us to get some pans and go out and get those beans picked while it was cool.
We would say, “OK, Mom, right after this cartoon is over.” After about three more cartoons and a couple of comic books, Mom would come in, turn off the TV and send us packing.
Today, I’m sure she would get a visit from social services for such reckless treatment of her children and her penalty would be greater than the kid who drove his Ferrari across the Lions Gate Bridge at 200 km/h.
We would dawdle and linger as we pulled on shorts and T-shirts and then argue about who was going to use which pan.
Once outside, after few minutes of playing with the dog and chasing each other around the yard, we would start the journey out to the garden.
A friend used to say, “One boy, one job, two boys, half a job, three boys, no job at all.”
Then we would find a football that was partially deflated and search for the bicycle pump to inflate it then kick it around for a half hour until we eventually spied the gloves, bat and ball lying where we had left them under the fir tree and we switched to 500, up until someone hit the ball across the road.
While looking for the ball we would see that the blackberries were ready and begin picking and eating them until our lips were blue and our white T-shirts were decorated with purple stains.
About this time, Mom would come outside, wringing her hands on her apron and in her ‘take no prisoners’ voice would tell us there would be no lunch until the beans were picked.
Again, today I’m sure such a threat would land her on house arrest with an ankle monitor.
Then, there we were, like prisoners on work release, bent over on hard labour in the noon heat of the day with the sun burning our necks and dirt and dust caking our young lungs and soft skin.
Kids always seem to learn the hard way.
At least that’s what McGregor says.