For about half of my childhood, I lived 3 houses away from my grandmother. Many spring and summer days I spent wandering through her yard, watching her work and listening to her talk about the plants she was growing in both her flower and vegetable gardens.
I was 9 years old when we moved away from the little house 3 doors down from Granny's, but thanks to her, I clearly remember knowing the hydrangea was my favorite flower, the daffodils bloomed around Easter and the roses could be finicky to grow in her yard.
Even though I hadn't been alive for a decade yet, I knew how to respect the work of the gardeners (Don't cross the line into the vegetable garden! Don't step in the flower beds!) and reverence for the plants that grew in her yard whether they brought beauty or sustenance.
I snapped green beans until my thumbs hurt, smelled tomatoes canning in the kitchen, savored the fried squash and okra and ate hot boiled peanuts straight from the pressure cooker.
These were the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of my childhood summer.
Even though my grandmother doesn't grow as large of a vegetable garden as she used to, she still grows what she can and stores up food for the winter, and her flowers, they are as lovely as ever.
The company on the porch swing overlooking the flowers can't be beat either.
I treasure my own memories in and around Granny's garden, and I'm thrilled that my own children are able to experience a piece of her magic.
Where my memories were formed by climbing in the dogwood next to her flowers and running through sprinklers beside her veggies, my own children are swinging on her porch swing over the flowers and racing in the wagon by her veggies.
But I think the connection will be the same. This connection to the generations before and the way they provided food for the family.
This connection to the land we grew up on and learned from while it wove pieces of this dirt and these plants and trees into the fibers of our childhood.
They may not choose to have aster, gladiolas, marigolds, mums, coneflowers and four'o'clocks decorating the path to their own houses when they are grown.
I can attest that it's a beautiful memory to hold of your childhood.
One that they might strive their entire adult life to replicate but only feel they've come home to when they visit Granny's garden again.
And the greatest gift is that she shares it all with us, both the literal gifts of her gardens and the knowledge, experience and expertise that brought her gardens to life.