It’s time for a cold glass of Guenoc chardonnay on the patio of Red Oak House after a perfectly delightful afternoon in the garden, time to savor the goodness of life.
Late morning was spent at the local garden shops and then it was home to plant my new treasures. Is there anyplace as happy on a May day than Plant Perfect or Cashman’s Nursery or the Lowe’s garden section?
On Wednesday, I planted a new yellow shrub rose, yellow being my favorite color and the more hardy shrub roses being appropriate for North Dakota’s oftentimes severe climate.
I love digging in the dirt. As I mow the tiny bit of grass we have here, I think of my Slope County family — my Grandpa Andy Silbernagel, my Daddy and my brothers — spending countless hours on the tractor, summer-fallowing the fields and planting the crops. They would come into the farmhouse with their faces completely black, dog-tired. We ate the food we’d prepared and they’d collapse in the recliner to read and watch TV — and get up each morning to repeat this ritual.
My paternal granddaddy, Earl Crook, grew a small crop of peanuts in Mississippi. I remember his wife, Lena Belle Ellis, would always have a huge vegetable and flower garden at their home near Vaiden, Miss. When I close my eyes, I can conjure up the exact picture of me following her and my mother in that multicolored wonderland.
At the Slope County farm, down near the well and windmill, we had one vegetable garden and then another just beyond the barnyard buildings, plus a huge field of potatoes about a mile from the farmstead.
As a small child, my Grandpa Andy would pay his grandchildren a penny for each potato bug we could catch and drop into a can of gasoline, as much to get us out of his hair as to control the bugs. As a teenager, I was pleased to be assigned to go and hoe the large potato field as this meant that I got to drive a pickup solo, something I couldn’t get enough of!
On days like today, we’d be eager to get off the school bus and tear outside to check on our baby calves and see if there might be new kittens. Everywhere we looked on the prairie there was new life.
Today, my husband fished with his pals on the Missouri River, and he came home with a bucket full of walleye, cleaned it and had nothing but happiness in his heart. We will share that with friends. We never “ever” take for granted the clean water that flows through our city, the Missouri River.
What a blessing it was to grow up surrounded by the people who grew our nation’s food and to live in a city where everyone is busy and happy with spring work.
I toast them all today with my Chardonnay.