A Beans and Cornbread Kind of Love
When I was just a little girl my brother and I would go with our mother to her parents house to help with the garden. My grandfather had suffered a couple of heart attacks so it was mostly my mother and grandmother who did the hard labor. My brother and I were not much help, but I doubt they expected us to be. Every year they grew the same thing: corn, squash, green beans, tomatoes and what my husband refers to as lima beans. My grandparents and mom called them butter-beans.
I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination a gardner. Instead of a green thumb, mine is decidedly brown. So when my husband asked if I would like to try raising a small garden this year I hesitantly said “yes.” I wanted the vegetables but I wasn’t sure of my ability to grow them. I reminded him of his promise to me to keep it a small garden right before he went out to plow. I should have known better. My husband doesn’t do small. He’s the type guy that if he goes to the grocery store hungry he comes home with enough groceries to feed a small country.
When I saw the garden he planted I almost fainted.
“I said small!” I yelled at him.
He gave me a sheepish look and said, “Well, you’ll probably kill at least half of it.” Touché
Monsoons in Kentucky
I don’t know how the weather has been where you live this summer but we’ve had tons of rain in Kentucky. I should have had enough vegetables to feed an army but that didn’t happen. I didn’t kill anything but for some reason it really didn’t do very well. We got lots of squash and some green beans but only a few tomatoes and no corn.
Today I went to check one last time to see if there was anything left and this is what I found.
One last gift from our garden…butter-beans! This may look like a lot of beans but if you have ever shelled butter-beans you know that after these beans are shelled you end up with a small bowl. And you will also know that it takes a fair amount of time to shell them. This small basket of beans took me an hour and a half to shell.
It’s funny the things you remember when you are shelling beans.
I remembered my grandmother and mother working in the garden together. Bent over, head to head, picking beans and talking and laughing.
I remembered them picking corn, shucking it, cutting it off the cob and making a huge mess in the kitchen. There would be corn stuck to the windows, the counter tops and even my mother’s glasses.
I remember how they loved tomatoes. My grandmother would often slice a tomato, put some mayo on a slice of bread and eat just a tomato sandwich.
I remember how every meal had to have cornbread or biscuits with it or it wasn’t complete.
Even now I can see our plates heaped with beans of one kind of another and a big slice of cornbread slathered in butter.
I miss my mother and my grandmother. Every single day I miss them, but something else occurred to me this afternoon while shelling butter-beans. Mom and grandma may not have been able to pass on to me their ability to grow a great garden but they did teach me a thing or two about life and love. Because of them I know that you don’t have to say “I love you,” to let your family know you are thinking of them.
Sometimes a big plate of beans and cornbread can say it for you.