Wednesday, 24 January 2007

.......where the heart is.

Most of my forebears, on both sides of my family, lived on island farms or had cottages with smallholdings in the countryside. All of my happy childhood summers were spent visiting the various members of our clan. Apart from growing acres of arable crops, each one had a personal garden, usually enclosed by stone-dyke walls, a prerequisite on windswept islands.

Each of them took great pride in their gardens, where they grew a combination of flowers and vegetables, often mixed together. I remember them growing Scotch marigolds alongside their carrots, because it helped to stop carrot-fly damage. No chemicals were used. Pests, such as caterpillars and grubs, were removed by hand.

I remember, as a child, being given pocket-money by my Grand-dad for helping him, early each morning and late at night, to dispose of the creepy-crawlies, as he called them, in a pail of salted water. From his example I learned how to grow flowers and vegetables without using chemicals. He always emphasised that we should never poison the soil because it produces all our food. Each garden, therefore, seemed to speak of its owner, as if reflecting aspects of each individual character.

Given freedom to wander at will, I remember to this day all the nooks and crannies in each of their homes, their style of furniture, their individual gardens and what they grew in them. But, most of all, I remember how we were loved and accepted, and the warm welcome we received as they came out to greet us, while inside, lovingly prepared, was a table groaning with their own produce, which included farmed meat, home-grown fruits and vegetables, home-made butter, cheese and cream, and trays of home-baked goodies.

No comments: