There were not many gardens in my childhood, and the few that come to mind are not exactly traditional. This fact threw me off for many of my early years as a garden writer. That I did not have a quaint story with a family farm, a vegetable patch in the yard, or an elder who passed on gardening know-how made me think I was a pariah trying to enter a party to which I was not invited.
On International Women’s Day we celebrate women who inspire us, who accomplish great things. Women we look up to. I’m not going to do that. Instead, I am going to recognize the women who shaped me, for better or worse. I always qualify with those words, because so little was better; much was worse. But they are my kin. My lineage.
I’ve been thinking about my stepfather a lot lately. It’s been hard not to since we moved out of the city and to a small town in Niagara. He worked for the canal. We live right by it now, drive past it regularly, and sometimes hear the ships from our home as they make their way up and down the escarpment from one Great Lake to another.
Earlier this evening, while slow drying a batch of our own homegrown tomatoes in the oven, Davin made a joke about the drying process to the tune of Rush’s “Closer to the Heart.” I’ve tried to replace it with “Subdivisions” (a superior song), but it refuses to come unstuck.
In a piece called “all about my mother,” author Jeanette Winterson tells the story of how a loveless upbringing led her to become a writer. She describes her mother as distrustful of books, a condition that lead to a stark void of reading materials in their home. There were six books in all, one of which included the Bible and two others that were commentaries on it.