I grew up in a rural area. There were many summers when we had a small garden in our backyard. We usually kept it simple and grew tomatoes, peas, peppers, and beans. For the most part, I was unimpressed with our garden, and I didn’t like to help out with it. I hated it when my brother and I were given the dreaded chore of pulling weeds. It was boring work, and it was hot!
However, the part that I did enjoy was “putting up” the food. This meant anything from stewing tomatoes to shelling peas or shucking corn. While doing this, you had a lot of time to “visit” with your family and friends…a time when you got to hear family stories and maybe even a little gossip. In some ways, it was a rite of passage.
This weekend, I visited my family. My dad has been gardening, and he gave me some home grown tomatoes and purple hull peas to bring back home. This afternoon, my daughter was being a handful so I was trying to figure out how to keep her preoccupied for one more hour (which would get us to dinner time). She LOVES to help me do things around the house so I asked if she wanted to help me shell some purple hull peas. She had no idea what I meant, but she quickly agreed to assist me.
We had the best time! We found a bowl to put the peas in, a box to put the empty shells in, and cleared a place to sit on the kitchen floor. I showed her how to pinch the end of the pod and pull it apart to get to the peas. She had some difficulty with this part so each time she would ask me for help. Then she would very carefully pick out each pea and drop it in the bowl. She was so focused, and her mood completely changed. We talked about how plants grow, how we would cook the peas, why her little sister couldn’t help, etc. My husband even came over and joined us for a while because he could overhear us from the living room. D enjoyed it so much that we actually had to make her stop so that she could eat her dinner and get to bed on time. It was such an unexpected special moment that I will always cherish.