“Fresh picked” is the song of the week here in South Alabama. Social media, church chit-chat and neighbors share tips on where the best crops can be found if you don’t have your own garden. Springtime crops are the appetizers that precede the summertime feast that’s on its way.
No matter if the signs on the interstate should say, “freshly” or “fresh,” the point is, the peaches are ready in Clanton. “Fresh Picked peaches” — “Fresh fried peach pies,” “Fresh picked Silver Queen” come and get it while you can.
Blueberries runneth over and peaches, corn and early tomatoes are showing up just as red snapper season opens. Springtime gardens hint that summer's main course will be even better.
Situated in a rural farming area, the new suburbanites have now turned to — or should I say “returned” to gardening. Having a backyard garden in the 1970’s was as common as having a driveway.
Almost everyone in my neighborhood had a garden because our parents were raised by parents who came from the farms and were touched by the Great Depression where gardens often saved them from starvation. It was a necessity, not a hobby.
The father of a high school friend told me that at one point in his life, all he had to eat the entire day was whatever he could pick and eat. His mother had died and his father was drunk most of the time, so he learned to garden in order to survive. That’s what people did back then. The government didn’t feed you, you had to learn to take care of yourself.
And now we have fancy raised gardens so we don’t have to bend over and they look so very pretty. Matching gloves and shovels add extra Southern Lady points. If granny in her tattered apron and granddad in his overalls could see us now.
My generation dropped the ball, and swimming pools and soccer goals claimed the space where squash and beans could have blossomed. But then came the pandemic.
COVID made gardening popular again because it was something productive we could do without having anyone breath on us. We couldn’t control the world, but we could control one little patch of earth in our backyard.
There’s a peace we’ve rediscovered of running our hands through the dirt and smelling the weeds as they’re pulled. Our grandparents did it out of necessity, and perhaps being outdoors with a basket of pole beans and tomatoes is a new necessity for us as well. We may not be starving for food, but maybe digging potatoes feeds our starving souls, hungry for something fresh picked. Freshly, fresh . . . we know.