For as long as I've known him, Bill has always had an amazing garden. When he lived at Mountain Grove, he put away more food from his own garden and fruit trees than anyone else I knew, and I was hanging out in a crowd of people who all took canning and preserving pretty seriously! Bill's pantry is always very well stocked. Pickled turnips, salsa, frozen strawberries, canned tomatoes, and crates full of winter squash often came from Bill by way of care packages when I lived out at Gateway Gardens, with Jerry.
Whenever we go to visit him, Bill puts on a big spread of food. He cooks beans, quinoa, vegetables, and biscuits, and he makes huge salads. We enjoy pickled turnips and sauerkraut, along with homemade ketchup and salsa. A day of work in the garden is always well rewarded by a delicious home cooked meal.
Bill moved to a new house last fall, which means that he had to start all over with a new garden. Early in the spring this year (2016) he invited us over for a garden work day party, as there was plenty to do, and many hands make light the work.
For the first day we had transplant some perennials that had been stored over in the neighbors' garden. We also worked on distributing some good soil and leveling the pathways that were all sloped. He has a good south facing slope, but the steepness presents challenges.
We planted lots of different herbs, berry bushes, and other perennials. It was still too early for summer crops, and Bill was starting to wonder where he was going to put all of those plants, as his space was filling up quickly.
The second time we came out to work, Bill's great granddaughter Kaia was visiting. She was in high school, and my girls loved her, hovering around her non-stop, delighting in the chance to talk to a teenager. Kaia was very obliging, though I'm sure overwhelmed. They all went on a walk in the forest, which gave Laura Bill and I a few quiet moments. We were winding down with the days work, which had been to dig up and transplant quite a few more big plants, many of them berry bushes. After getting them watered in, we sat on the porch and enjoyed the bright green view. The sun was shining that day, and everything looked so bright and alive.
I always enjoy my conversations with Bill, who is quite informed on a variety of topics and who appreciates the old fashioned art of discourse. I have been blessed to have him as a mentor, and his continued determination to garden and be as prepared as he can to survive the collapse of civilization is an inspiration to anyone who wonders just what there is to be done.
Just as we must tend to our gardens, we must tend to our relationships. When we leave our elders live out their final years in solitude, we are not only doing them a disservice; we are also depriving ourselves of a great resource - their knowledge and wisdom. Cherish your grandparents, parents and elders! Spend as much time as you can with them, listening to them and learning from them, committing to memory or written word the emphasis of their lives and perspectives. Once they are gone, all we have left is what we took the time to absorb and preserve.