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While the family worked together, Mom taught us the importance of worshipping God and other life lessons

My favorite garden lives in my memory. It's the garden my Mom used to feed our bodies, minds and spirits. I learned many things from her in that garden.

While the family worked together, Mom taught us the importance of worshipping God. She taught us it's not necessary to own fancy things to enjoy life. She also taught us work does not have to be drudgery.

Mom's garden was our life source. At the end of each Summer, the garden supplied us with enough food for another year. She harvested and canned rows and rows of carrots, peas and tomatoes. She dug potatoes and shelled beans.

Keeping us alive spiritually and emotionally was as important to Mom as keeping us alive physically Her garden was a classroom where she' taught us to work and to be happy imaginative citizens

Mom's methods included teaching us work can be fun. In fact, she turned everything into a game.

One time during World War II, she pretended to be a recruiter. "I'm the sergeant," she said, pointing us out one by one. "You, you and you are drafted! Enemy weeds are invading our garden. Rush to' the rescue of the vegetables." We' felt quite patriotic as we marched to the garden and eradicated the enemy.

Another method that proved effective was a promise that if we weeded our garden row, we could go swimming. She knew we loved to swim. The faster we weeded, the sooner we were able to head for the lake.

"I know a game' called Meet in the Middle," she said. "Two people weed a garden row. They each start on opposite ends of the row and meet in the middle. The first one to reach the middle gets a prize. Do you want to play?"

One of our favorite garden weeding games was "Meet in the Middle." I remember the first time we played it. Mom, two of my brothers and I were the only family members home that day

It sounded like a wonderfully fun contest. We definitely wanted to try.

"LeRoy, you start there on the row next to Ken. Only don't start until Yvonne and I are ready." She said it so convincingly I thought she' really did have to prevent them from going to work too soon.

"OK," she said. "Ken, you start here." she guided him to one end of a row of carrots.

"I'll mark the middle," she said. "The winners get apiece of fudge." Mom's homemade fudge was a prize worth weeding for.

She marked the halfway point with her garden fork. She and I hurried to the far end of the rows.

"Go!" she yelled. The four of us began weeding as frantically as we could. I was the youngest and not as good at weeding as my brothers Every now and then Mom would sneak over to my row and help me I think my brothers knew that, but they didn't seem to care. They also knew Mom got slowed down by helping me. They beat us by a mile. Ken got to the middle first. LeRoy was right behind him.

I can still see the two of them jumping for joy

"Don't trample the carrots," Mom yelled. "All your weeding will do no good if you jump on the vegetables," she said, giggling at' their antics.

We played Meet in the Middle many times after that. My brothers always won.

"If you finish your half of the row, you can have a prize too," Mom always told me. Although my prize came later, I didn't miss. out.'

My brothers didn't object. They actually wanted me to get a treat, too. They just wanted to win the contest. Eventually I began cheering for, them because it meant so much to them.

Sometimes Mom worked alone in her garden. I remember one time we were playing in our sand-pile when Mom called us to the house. She stood beside a basket of freshly picked cucumbers. "I have a present for you," she said.

We rushed to her side. On top of her basket were several huge cucumbers. She picked up the first one and handed it to me. "This is a cucumber car," she said. As I hugged my new cucumber car to my chest, she distributed cucumber trucks, boats and tractors to my brothers.

We were as happy as pigs in a mud puddle as we ran to the sandpile with our new green fleet.

Mom always devoted the biggest portion of her garden to vegetables. Still, she always had, one small area just for beauty They were simple flowers, a row of bachelor buttons or snapdragons: And, there was always a patch of daisies that came back year after year.

I remember Morn saying, "If for some reason there are no, flowers in your garden, just look up. There is beauty in the sky Each day the sky is different than the day before. Some days God makes puffy cloud gardens. Other days He herds His cloud animals above our heads. Some days He prefers a sea of blue. Remember to appreciate each day for what it is."

There were many days we studied the clouds to see how many different things we could find. She pointed out sky daisies and white roses. Other days we saw unicorns and white whales. Mom was a free spirit with a marvelous imagination and a sense of humor that reached out and encompassed everyone. One day she pointed toward a cloud. "Look," she said, "there's an old man's face in the clouds."

"Where?" I asked. "1 can't see it..

"Look with your heart," she said. "Smile when you look up. That helps your eyes see more good things."

I thought it was just one more of her ways to make me use my imagination. With huge grin on my face; I looked toward the sky fully expecting to see only clouds. There, over my head, I saw the 'face of a man with white hair, a white mustache and beard. "There it is," I yelled. "I see it now."

That was the day she pulled me over the line to her way of thinking. The world is full of marvelous' things if you keep a' smile on 'your face and your eyes to the sky.

Mom has been with God many years now Yet still, she is with me. I see a daisy and I think about her and her garden. I pull a weed, and I remember how she turned work into a game. I look at the sky, and I see cloud horses or ducks.

The other day I looked up and there was that old man with the long flowing white hair, white beard and white mustache. I think he must spend many days up there, floating along not worried about time or the cares of his life.

Morn's garden sustained me as a child. Her words of wisdom and cheerful spirit sustain me still.
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Title Annotation:spirituality through gardening
Author:Woods, Yvonne
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Sep 16, 2001
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