Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Blessing of Journaling

Thanks to journals I've kept over the years, I know much more than I ever could have remembered without them. As you can probably tell from my blog, I haven't been the most faithful journaler—and I wish I'd done better. It got worse with the advent of email, online forums, and social networking, and now it's to the point where the majority of my journal entries are copied and pasted from emails to close friends. But those entries will still be able to jog my memory someday.

This weekend I ran across my gardening journal from 1982-84. Like a lot of journals started by a lot of people, this one petered out after a while. But I was interested to read several of the entries.

In 1983 I put the following in the freezer: 14 quarts of spinach, 53 quarts of broccoli, 11 heads of cauliflower, 10 pints of peas, 30 quarts of green beans, 2 quarts of cherries, 6 quarts of peaches, 5 quarts of corn, 25 quarts of tomatoes, 1 quart of Swiss chard, and 33 quarts of applesauce.

That same year, I planted 10 different Asiatic lilies. I also wrote at length about my nicotiana, poppies, day lilies, veronica, statice, balsam, delphiniums, monardas, strawflowers (I said the strawflowers looked "troubled"), tall dahlias, dwarf dahlias, zinnias, hollyhocks, herbs, coreopsis, anchusa, Futura impatiens (whatever happened to that variety, anyway?), gaillardia, tithonia, and wallflowers. The following year I got much more heavily into perennials.

Oh, and I mention that my children were 10, 8, and 5 years old? And that I sewed a lot of their clothes? And cooked three meals a day (from scratch) every day? I'm exhausted just reading this.

But the best thing I learned from reading the journal concerned a good deed I did for an elderly flower gardener. Here's the entry:

Last year I planted a few of my leftovers for Mrs. Reynolds, whose heart condition had prevented her from growing any new flowers. I brought over nicotiana, marigolds, and delphiniums, and planted them in her garden. This year I started some seeds especially for her: "Inca" marigolds, "Kablouna" calendulas, and "Domino" dwarf nicotianas.

I didn't know much about Mrs. Reynolds' family back then. I didn't know, for instance, that she had a one-year-old great-granddaughter who would grow up to marry my son.


Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb said...

Fifty-three quarts of broccoli? Those were heroic days!

Susan said...

Indeed! And first we grew all those vegetables. Fruits, too. This year I was thrilled to grow and freeze 11 pints of green beans. June cold snaps killed off all the apples two years in a row; I've really missed the applesauce.

crystal said...

Oh how neat about the great-grand daughter marrying your son.

You're always doing so many interesting and ambitious things - amazing the amount of produce you produced :)

I only seem to have kept cat journals that sound kind of like your gardening ones - maybe I'll write something about them. When I read them, I sound so obsessed in them :)

Indigo Bunting said...

Oh, what a beautiful story. I think I'm a little bit in love with it.

Helen said...

How are people ever going to write this kind of fabulous detail now that journalling is passe? I mean, even at my most creative I wouldn't be able to imagine freezing 53 quarts of broccoli.

Mali said...

Oh I love your story (even if I am exhausted at your freezing efforts). How special for your son and his wife.