Thursday, August 30, 2012
Rodale, My Father, and Me
The hardware store/lumber yard was right across the street (One of the employees had a contagious, super-loud laugh that would make us pause in our tracks and snicker), and the little grocery, department, and drug store were across the railroad tracks and Main St., and little children felt secure in patronizing them unaccompanied by an adult.
My grandparents lived right next door to us. Grandpa always had a bounteous vegetable garden and beautiful sweet peas, thanks in part to the two inches of cow manure that he tilled under each spring. A garden was absolutely essential while raising their children during the Great Depression, and was a always a source of pride in later years.
When fate brought my family to settle next to my grandparents, Daddy took up fruit-tree planting to rival that of Johnny Appleseed. There were two apricots, two plums (one green gage and one Italian prune), eight apple tree, one gooseberry bush, one pie cherry tree, one peach tree, and several Nanking cherry and raspberry bushes. Concord grapes grew next to the front porch, and were wonderful made into tangy juice and jelly.
My mother was appreciate of Daddy's efforts in fruit production, but when it came to vegetable gardening, that was quite a different story! Rodale's "Organic Gardening and farming" was a great influence on my father, who took the organic philosophy and methods to heart (Daddy even had a couple of his own articles accepted by Rodale in 1974, which made him a proud man.).
After my parents divorced and Daddy left forever, his interplanted garden became a memory, as Grandpa helped re-establish "normalcy", but the seeds that Rodale planted have grown fertile in me, who loves to garden organically, weeds and all. I even have a collection of vintage "Organic Gardening and Farming" books and magazines, and am still looking for the issues from 1974 that have my father's articles in them.
Although my father's body no longer inhabits this earth, his spirit will never die. As I watch my children exploring the world of growing things, and we forage wild edibles together, I'm sure that Daddy is smiling down on us all.
Thanks J. I. and Robert Rodale, for your legacy of love!