Clark Hollow Ramblings: Memorial Day and fresh dirt

I hope you made it through the Memorial Day weekend without any unfavorable incidents, or at least no incidents that will leave a scar. We had a busy weekend with a graduation party for a grand-nephew, our church’s Fifth Sunday Worship Service, followed by a covered dish dinner at our outdoor pavilion. We had a little string music for the folks while the food was being set out. Then, my banjo buddy and I went and played a bit of music for some folks on a trail ride.

The weather was good, the worship service was well attended, the message was inspiring, and Bill Welch, who joined us for the service, gave a wonderful prayer for our fallen heroes, which is what the holiday is all about. I think sometimes we get so caught up in our personal holiday plans that we tend to forget the reason for celebrating Memorial Day.

I know the family gatherings are fun, seeing the grandkids, a lot of good food, the grill going, the refreshing adult beverages flowing, and all the fellowship we share with our friends and families. But we need to take a few moments to hit our knees and thank the Lord for the ultimate sacrifice that was made by so many good patriots who loved their country and died for their country and all it stands for. And we need to remember their families, as well.

With all the rancor and mud-slinging going on in the presidential race it is sometimes difficult to remember that this is still the greatest country in the world. And before I get too sentimental and maudlin, I want to introduce you to a phrase you may not have heard before.

These days, when we hear the term “fresh dirt,” we might think of the latest claim by one of the candidates that they have learned something positively awful about the other side and they can’t wait to dish it up to the TV crews and reporters and journalists. What I think of is my mother, our huge vegetable garden and her instructions to me about what I should be doing to help with the garden.

We had a huge garden. It was probably about a half acre, but to me, sometimes, it seemed to stretch from Massies Corner to Flint Hill. As an example, it was nothing for my dad to plant a hundred pounds of seed potatoes, and if he had any garden space left, he would go get a bushel or so of what we had left from last year and plant those, as well. And fuss as we might about having to work in the garden, we did not go hungry.

You may know that some youngsters try to get out of doing their chores and helping around the house and yard. I was no exception. The older boys put the cows across the road in the evening, milked them in the evening and morning, and turned them back across the road the next morning. There were chickens to feed, eggs to be gathered, hogs to be slopped and always, always, wood to be chopped and split and carried in to the wood box. And not just when the weather was cold; my mother cooked most of our meals on a wood burning cook stove. I remember it had a tank on one side that heated water.

In later years we went all modern and fancy and got an electric cook stove, but it seemed to me that it was used sparingly, at least as far as the wood box problem was concerned.

And then there was the garden. Our job, as youngsters, was mostly to pull the weeds. As we got older and could be trusted with a hoe, we had to “work” the ground around the peas and onions and corn and potatoes. This involved pulling the weeds and then digging around the plants to loosen the soil. My mother’s instructions were, “Son, just pull the weeds out and then take your hoe and pull a little fresh dirt up around the plants.”

I look back on those times and remember how I used to think we had so much hard work to do. I can’t help feeling a little bit ashamed of myself for wanting to get out of my chores. My mother worked so hard, and in comparison, what little we did was a pittance. But, you know how kids are, and I suppose, for the times, we were pretty typical.

I hope any fresh dirt that makes its way into your life will be that which is pulled around your vegetables in the garden.

Finally, my oldest grandchild and I shared the first two fresh Wando peas out of the garden last week. And on Memorial Day, I had my first new beets for lunch, and for dinner enough new peas to go on my garden salad. From a cold, wet start, the garden is beginning to turn around. God bless.

Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 151 Articles
Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.