When I was a little girl I spent a great deal of time watching television. Now, I know that allowing a child to consume copious amounts of TV is frowned upon today. However, I'm willing to bet that most children of the 80's will agree it was their norm. My mother worked the dreaded, by me anyway, 3-11 shift at a local nursing home. I spent those hours with my Nana. Nana was a strong, loving woman with skin the color of a Hershey's kiss and a big toothless smile that was just as sweet. Nana loved me. I knew this without question. But, I also knew that her first and truest love was gardening. And it was very evident that every growing thing felt the same about her. She could make anything grow. Her garden was a miraculous thing to see. She could take the most barren, nutrient poor soil and bring forth a southerner's rainforest. Every year her vegetable garden overflowed with collared greens, corn, tomatoes, and of course, being in the South, watermelons. She grew watermelons so large that they surely outweighed my tiny five year old body. I was always happy to spend time with Nana in the sun and soil.
During my childhood visitors to my grandmother’s home often wouldn’t stop at the front door. Instead they would head straight for the side gate that led to her back yard and grab hold to the opening latch. There they would fall silent and still as they carefully surveyed the area. Only the untrained visitor or the most foolish friends entered Nana’s back yard unannounced. Nana was known to have the near bipolar quality of being loving and generous to her friends and neighbors in one instant yet ready in the next to run them through with various garden implements if they infringed on the boundaries of her property. In particular, visitors to the back yard were seen as possible spies come to steal her gardening genius. This behavior was especially perplexing to new friends who no doubt had been told at some point and time to “Stop by and see my old piece of garden”, by none other than Nana herself.