My one pot of cucumbers are coming along! I expect those flowers to bloom soon!
Back to my childhood garden in 1966
It was late May and school would soon be over! Those flowers on the vegetable plants, that show up first, were blooming all over the bloomin place! I was happy though. According to my uncle, this meant progress. It also meant that it was time to break up some more cow chips, crush them up and spread the fine crumbles into the soil. Cow chips, you say? Cow manure, most times, resemble large round flat shaped chips, hence the term cow chips. They made great fertilizer and that is all I am going to say on that subject!
Moving right along! It was also time to pull up more weeds from my garden! I learned that gardening is more than just planting veggie seeds. There was constant maintenance as well. Between hauling water, chopping wood, homework and gardening, my childhood agenda was quite full.
Nevertheless, there was time for recreation in the rural south too. We played stickball, we played dodgeball and we played hide and seek. Again, I was a fourth grader and I enjoyed playing much more then I enjoyed work, just like any other fourth grader. I got into a little hot water during one episode of hide and seek. It all had to do with Carla Simpson. Carla was in 3rd grade. She was cute, shorter than me, very quiet yet quick of wit -especially when it came to giving me well deserved grief for some of my childish mischievous ways. Most of all however and in my mine at the time, the mostest beautiful girl in the world.
We were in a hot and heavy game of hide and seek. The forest area, commonly referred to as “the woods” were always off limits to us elementary school kids. Saturday afternoons in the woods were reserved for the Junior and Senior high schoolers of the rural south. Anyhow we had plenty places to hide in, and I chose a spot behind an old 58 Chevy that was no longer running and sitting on top of four concrete blocks. I was tired on that day and really did not feel like searching hard for a hiding place. Nonetheless, I was having great fun. It was like I was hiding in plain sight. All the first graders, all the second graders third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders were out there and they all passed right by me without noticing me. All except Carla Simpson. She found me. Immediately, we began to throw verbal jabs at each other. “It figures” she snapped, “that you would find the easiest place to find you.”
“It figures you would be the only one to find me”, I responded. We both were looking at each other and smiling as we taunted each other with barbs. The more we taunted, the closer we became until finally, out of nowhere, we leaned toward each other and kissed. It was just a light peck of the lips but electrifying for a moment. Until. “Ooooh, Ooooh Jerry kissed Carla!” I heard from the chorus of voices right behind us! “We are going to tell! We are going to tell!” A few of my cousins and a few of the neighborohood kids who were running around during the high intensity high and seek game suddenly came upon us as we were pecking each other on the lips. Now in retrospect, we kissed each other but the neighborhood kids interpreted the whole thing as me kissing Carla. “Jerry kissed Carla! We are going to tell! We are going to tell! was the resounding chorus over and over again. Carla was long gone by the second stanza of that chorus and I finally walked away towards “the woods”.
I figured that I was in hot water. They would surely tell my mother, who just happened to have just arrived from the big city of Greenville. (at least it was big in my eyes at the time, i would learn later in life that it was quite small). My family had moved back to the big city after having spent a few years in the rural area outside of Columbia. I was left with my aunt just to finish out the school year. My mother had come down from Greenville for a few days to take care of some business. There was no telling how she would respond if the neighborhood kids told her what I had just done.
I was in the woods looking for what my parents called a hickory. A hickory was a small switch that some parents in the south used to enforce discipline, correction and mild punishment for misdeeds of children. The less proper term was called a whipping. The switch was a very thin, long twig from a bush with the leaves pulled off of it. A whipping from a loving parent was mostly a mild stinging that hurt your feelings more than it did your flesh.
I was now in the woods, searching for the largest hickory I could find. I found a small branch. I did not bother to strip the leaves off. I left the woods and walked straight to the house into the kitchen where my mother was stripping some collards from their stems. I threw the rather large hickory on the table, looked at her and said, “Beat me now”. My mother, stunned, looked at me and asked, “What?” “Beat me now”, i said again. “Ok, boy you need to tell me what this is all about”, she said as she glared at me. “Beat me now”, I persisted. “Child”, she responded, “you getting on my nerve! What is this about?”
“I kissed Carla”, I said. For a brief moment there was a glint of a smile on my mother’s face. She picked up the miniature tree limb, broke it in two and threw it into the wood pile and then said to me, now really smiling, “Boy get out of here before I kill you.” ….and off i ran, hearing her chuckle in the background.
Stay tuned this weekend for the next chapter of “Jerry’s Patio Garden”.