Our little one planted a lot of bean and squash seeds over spring break.
I led with the corn, placing the seeds twelve inches apart down each row, and she dropped a bean seed next to each one. We alternated on the squash seeds, twenty-four inches apart down the long rows, first her, then me, dropping the seeds.
As we planted, I wondered if she contemplated the lush garden this would become, or only the mechanics of pushing seeds into the soil. But then one morning, as she took handfuls of rattlesnake beans out of her coat pockets, she said, “Daddy, is this the one that goes like this?” and her finger spiraled into the air, like a bean vine winding up a corn stalk trellis.
“Yes! Very good,” I said.
Later, as we walked down the rows, she showed me her handful of blue seeds, and said, “Is this the one that goes like this?” and her hand trailed in big sweeps along the ground, toward the lake, tracing future watermelon vines.
“No, the seeds look the similar, but these are the ones that grow like this,” I said, and formed a big bush. “This one makes the little yellow squash with the crooked necks. Do you remember those?”
She looked at the seeds and nodded.
It should not surprise me that she remembers her plantings. At age four, when I asked her one evening what she wanted for dinner, she said she couldn’t remember what it was called, but she could show me. She took me all the way out to a garden, and pointed to collard greens. She had planted those very collard seeds in that very garden.
“Are you sure you want these for supper?” I said. She said definitely yes. We brought them in and Kayla cooked them with her wonderful collard recipe, and the little one ate all the collards we gave her.
Kayla started teaching her to bake bread at age three. Now, with minimal coaching, and a little help kneading, she can make a pretty decent loaf of bread. She is getting close to really good pancakes–although very choclate-chip-rich if left to herself.
She is five. Our planting days were long. It was cold in the morning, and hot by the afternoon. We ate picnic lunches out by the gardens, and gave the left-over peanut butter and banana sandwiches to Bando. The work never felt like drudgery; only joy.
When she would get tired, she would sit on her blanket and practice spelling, or color pictures for Kayla, or play with Bando. Bando never leaves her side. He stays close, wherever she goes, to keep her safe.
I wonder if she will remember these days, what we planted. I hope she remembers.