Looking Back

When the past becomes the present

As I grow older I realize that things I thought were about as exciting as watching paint dry have now worked their way into my life.

It’s gardening season and I seem to have inherited both my father’s love of a vegetable garden and my mother’s passion for flowers.

Since the majority of houses on our street were built on 50×150-ft. parcels of land, there was not much room for gardens. Homeowners started buying the lots next to their home both for privacy and also for more lawn and garden space. My parents bought their house in 1944 and eight years later they acquired the lot. Since I now live in my family home I am very appreciative of that fact.

My father wanted to grow a vegetable garden on the extra land, so my parents turned over (by hand) the back half of the lot. As a young child I can remember that my friends and I played hide and seek in the rows of corn. He grew more veggies than the three of us could ever eat so they shared the abundance with our neighbors.

Now I am the one who has a veggie garden in the back section of the extra lot. I can understand how my father found it rewarding to watch a plant grow from seed. He used to tell me that he found it relaxing to weed. Since kids don’t know the meaning of the word “relaxing” I certainly had no idea back then what that statement meant. I do now! My mother decided to create a rock garden in the front section of the lot. I am not sure how much she really liked “playing in the dirt” but she liked the finished product.

Planting flowers is instant gratification . . . dirt one minute and lots of color the next. I took gardening to another level by growing perennials where she grew annuals. They take more patience because you have to consider blooming times for constant color. But free flowers every summer are a good thing and, once planted, they can be enjoyed from year to year.

When I sit in the yard and relax I think of my father’s love of birds. We had a couple of bird houses and he loved it when one was chosen for building a nest. Of course, birds were of no interest when I was young. Now there are eight bird houses on our property and every one of them has been a site for nests. The wrens return every year and always find a house that suits them. Their constant chatter is a source of amusement as I work in the gardens. It takes an “older soul” to simply sit and be entertained as the wrens fly into the birdhouses carrying grass and sticks. Even more enjoyable is watching the babies stick their heads out of the opening uttering little peeps as they demand to be fed.

One of the most pleasurable places to spend time in the summer is on our enclosed back porch. My father used to sit out there and watch the lightning during thunderstorms. At the same time, my mother was upstairs sprinkling holy water around.

I seem to be somewhere in the middle when it comes to storms. I can see why they are fascinating to watch but I have been known to head to a closet when the “booms” reach a certain level.

Neither of my parents is living but if they were, I think they would be pleased with the various things my husband and I have done to their home and land. One time I asked my father what made them choose this particular house. He told me they loved the view from the back porch. Of course, 70 years later some of the mountain views have been lost because of the many houses that have been built. But we are still high enough to see great color in the fall and snowcapped mountains in the winter.

When the sun hits the glass windows of the porch in the winter you can eat lunch out there or sit and read. The porch only had screens in my parents’ days but I know they would both love the fact that the porch can now be enjoyed year round.

These are simple memories from simple times. When you find yourself enjoying the things that held no interest when you were a child, you will know that the past has become the present. Looking back puts the present in proper perspective and it helps you understand who you are.

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