One of the most vivid memories I have of my great grandmother is kneeling at her side on a summer day as she showed me how to excavate potatoes. I remember the smell of the earth, the softness of it, and the complete surprise I felt at discovering that real food had been hiding under the dirt all the time.
I remember how she cut them into long fat strips and fried them in a cast iron skillet. I remember how hard she laughed when I declared, “They’re even better than Ore Ida!”
I remember too hearing her say that those potatoes had been planted on Valentine’s Day. It’s what was done. In our neck of the woods, the day of love was also the day for planting ‘taters!
It seemed strange to me then, that people would spend their time thinking about dirt and potatoes instead of chocolate hearts and lacy cards on Valentine’s Day, but it makes more sense to me now. What says love, real love, more than working together toward a common goal, appreciating the little square of land thats all yours, and laying in your hopes for happy, well-fed tomorrows together? I kind of think that planting might be the perfect way to declare familial love. Don’t you?
We missed Valentine’s Day by a long shot when we planted Granny’s birthday garden last year, but we resolved, then and there, that we’d do better this year. And oh did we ever! We still didn’t quite land on the right day, but we got a whole lot closer, and that’s progress, right?
We took a little road trip last week to reacquaint ourselves with the woods, to soak in the company of our favorite granny, and to get some dirt under our nails.
We passed miles and miles of dark bare fields on our way, many of them being plowed up and turned over by determined farmers in their blue tractors. We sat around Granny’s table and caught up on family news while we cut the eyes from seed potatoes. We put our backs into it, hoed the rows and dug the holes.
We were, as always, so sad to say goodbye when our visit was done.
As ridiculous as it sounds though, it makes us all smile, even now, so far away, to know that there are potatoes hiding underground, reaching for a new spring, and that in just a few weeks it will be time to plant the tomatoes.
I can almost smell the vines now.
I hope your week is off to a good start, friends!