Neighbor Ann with Jennifer's son Samuel, 1, on the patio, July 2009
Grandma Ann, my 92-year-old neighbor, died this spring. I miss her. I feel her loss even more sharply now, for this is the season of daily visits on her patio. Four years of routine: Each summer morning as I dragged a watering can through my yard, I'd listen for the creak of her back door. Then I'd call out, "Hello, Ann!" from over the fence.
"Hello!" she'd holler. "Come on over!" And I'd open the gate that joins our yards. Ann liked to survey the day's new blooms, how drained the hummingbird feeder was, things like that. I'd help her weed here and there, install a drip line, or guide my children to sweep her steps, things like that. My kids knew where to find me when the phone rang. Mostly Ann and I just talked -- about parenting and education and all the cultural events she enjoyed attending. She was my friend.
She was also a saver. Of EVERYTHING.
Her out-of-state relatives recently excavated a stash of seed packets somewhere in the garden shed. Would I like them?
Hmm, let me think ... Of course I would!
There were dozens of brightly colored envelopes, the oldest labeled with
"PACKED FOR 1971." Some of the flowers have never been opened. I shared these with my dad. Next spring I'll sow them, as an experiment, of course. Although kept dry, the seeds have gone through so many temperature changes I'll be surprised if they sprout. Won't that be a kick!
Several of the vegetable envelopes were neatly packed in spare cardboard cartons that once held green bean seeds. Ann once told me her husband loved to garden. Was this his way of keeping track of the varieties they liked best?
I haven't figured out what -- if anything -- I'll do with the packets. Maybe decoupage them onto a patio table top? Make a cover for a garden journal? (Send your ideas if you have anyway!)
No matter what, I'm glad I got to see these little time capsules before they went to the trash.
The empty vegetables were particularly revealing, with their top left corners uniformly ripped off. I can vividly picture Ann's husband Dwain gripping them with his right thumb, making a quick tear and sprinkling them into prepared rows. Like you, I never even met Dwain. Can't you imagine him planting, too?
This packet shows how our dietary attitudes have changed over the decades. Check out all the cooking suggestions for the beans.
For variety ... try cooking home grown beans with ...
BACON AND CHOPPED ONIONS • MUSHROOMS SAUTEED IN BUTTER
SLIVERED ALMONDS • MUSHROOM SOUP AND MILK
Or season beans with ...
CREAM SAUCE • SUMMER SAVORY AND BUTTER • PREPARED MUSTARD AND BUTTER • SPRINKLED WITH GRATED CHEESE
For a last amusement, look at the front and back of this forget-me-not envelope, packaged as a bank promotion:
are bursting with energy
to help you produce
some beautiful flowers.
Let us turn your
spring financial gloom
BY PLANTING EXTRA MONEY
in your pocket.
ONE CALL DOES IT ALL!
By the way, that bank collapsed this year. Oops. Think these seeds will sprout?