This essay is in response to a Garden Rant blog post by my friend Susan L. Morrison. Great post Susan…let the discussion continue….
My dad planted them, as a child during the depression, because he had to. As an adult, he grew them because they were symbolic of never going hungry. It gave him comfort to know if all else failed; he would have a tomato to eat.
It was a new era. We were rich (in that my dad had work, mom stayed at home to raise the family; we had no debt, owned our own home and we were loved.) My youth was between wars; neither war precipitated the need to grow a tomato.
I never grew tomatoes…well; maybe I stuck one in the ground now and again. But it wasn’t for any altruistic reason. It was a tomato. It had no meaning for me. I was enjoying the peace and love stuff more than growing tomatoes.
I didn’t get the tomato thing. I got that my dad never forgot the depression. I wanted to grow pretty flowers. I didn’t feel the pangs of hunger that motivated him. That was his thing, give me ornamentals; give me peace and love. Peace and love are priceless. I can buy a tomato.
As my generation basked in the glory of the profits following the depression era, a new era was built on steady work and the power of compound interest, we didn’t want to GROW our own tomatoes…we wanted to BUY them, because we could. We wanted to have pretty, manicured gardens around us. Tomatoes were bought just like a new sofa was bought. We wouldn’t think of making our own sofa, would we?
Now my kids look around and see flowers, pretty flowers, everywhere. As they became informed, they noticed I had no tomatoes, they wonder and asked why. I explained, that my generation (sorry, don’t mean to be speaking for everyone) didn’t want to grow food. We wanted to grow beauty…our symbol of comfort.
Because of my kids, I tore up a patch of the front lawn and planted a veggie garden we now tend together. We grow tomatoes. As I harvest a fresh tomato, I think of my dad and his dad. I am hopeful my kids will never “need” to grow a tomato, but if they had to, they could.
My kids find their version of peace and love in the earth as a functional entity. Give to the earth and the earth will give back. Yep, if they want some information, they bypass by shelves of books and stacks of magazines for Google or Bing or RedZ. I do too.
I find comfort in holding a book or a magazine. But, I can’t and wouldn’t dictate that they hold the same value I do for the printed word. But maybe they will because that is where mom is and they want to be with mom.
As writer I wonder how to better communicate. I wonder how to best reach the new readers. I earn my living writing for magazines, blogs and I’m beginning my first book. I have to keep the future on my radar screen. I’m not alone. This wonder is being widely discussed. The what ifs abound. When I’m asked my opinion, I give my pat response for any query about the future and how I feel about it. My answer is this - I have no answer. The issues of the future haven’t been invented yet. In the meantime, I will evolve with the new generation and not hold onto my version of peace and love, but be ready to welcome theirs.
Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening With Confidence Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her Facebook page, the Gardening With Confidence fan page. Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.