Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Inseparable Sister Love

It's been a bittersweet spring wrought with delightful discovery and an achy heart. I get overly sentimental about family because mine is so scattered and as a young child I knew something was very wrong (for me) with the way we moved around leaving pets and friends behind. I resented it as a child and my parents howled with laughter when we watched "Roots" on TV and I broke down crying "I'll never have roots!" (Insert image of Kunta Kinte collecting Kizzy's footprints.) I vowed to stay put while raising my children so they could have the roots I lack. It's been unusually hard fulfilling this promise because every few years I get the gypsy bug and have to struggle for stability...14 years later, I think I've found some.

Thanks for the seeds Mom!
So, I'm a week into my "Staycation" a term of endearment for me. My brother generously brought my girls to Vienna to see his family and welcome the last of the grandchildren for my mother (who is also in Vienna) and soak up the culture. We lived in Germany for 4 1/2 years when I was in Elementary School and I think he envisioned a family reunion of sorts. Well, if you follow this blog at all, you know I've got 13 pets and a few hundred plants and summer is really no time at all to leave them alone in hotter than hell Texas, and we were unable to find someone willing to put in the time to water the garden, walk the dogs and treat their daily disasters (Bud just came in with fireant bites all over,) collect the eggs and spoil little Blanca, let out the bunnies (BTW, I've found a home for the bunnies Linda!) pet the cats, lifting them to their perch to complain about the endless changing food, and feed the Flash the birthday fish. My passion and love or part-time job, however you see it. We're here, they're gone.
Sister Corn standing tall, Sister Bean sprouted with leaves, and I was late on planting Sister Squash...though I think it may have been wise...
Besides, I would have missed out on meeting my new sisters! My mom sent me a packet of seeds in February called "Three Sisters" that she bought in Kansas. My thumb is covering the real home base of Ashland, Montana...unfortunately the varieties are not labeled...it simply says "corn, bean, squash" on the little packets inside. Like most of us who paid attention in history, the Iroquois Indian Legend that helped feed the pilgrims held a unique fascination because of how they planted the seeds in a mound with a fish for fertilization. I seriously didn't give it much thought after hearing it...the fish part seemed weird, but I wasn't raised gardening and hadn't experienced the success and fallen in love with Alaska Fish Emulsion...yet! So it was filed...until I opened the package and read the instructions. This was a project, and I needed a new project because the 100 projects that lay around my house and studio just weren't doing it for me.

A few weeks later...here comes Baby Sister Squash!

I spent awhile reading up on some of the Iroquois stories and having read quite a bit of Sioux lore found them beautifully intricate and gruesomely fascinating. My own sister lives in Eugene, Oregon and I don't see much of her. My sister-in-law is the one in Vienna, a day over due giving birth to what everyone thinks is another sister. I'm at home falling in love with sisters that are here, rooted, inseparable and co-dependent. Why would I say that? Well, zoom down and have a look at my poor squash at the beginning of borer season. I missed the mark on the companion planting and every single one has been attacked, and yanked... save the squash growing at the foot of the mounds...coincidence? I think not. Though I have heard of successive planting that outlives the borer and maybe my baby sister was saved because of that?

My hard-headed self didn't bother researching what I was doing, I just read the directions and picked 4 locations as a trial. I've never grown corn and I was a bit skeptical of the dried up looking popcorn that looked like something that fell out of the bag at the movies. Now that we've harvested and eaten the corn, I will never go without it. But, I really don't want to grow the yellow stuff...sweet as it was. I want to grow the purple and blue, wild indigenous hearty stuff that seems as old as Turtle Island herself...North America to the Iroquois.

Every stage of the growth was beautiful. Here is Sister Corn in her pale green shawl, getting ready to let her hair down.

Sister Bean, the giver of nitrogen, a term unknown hundreds of years ago. I don't think I'm a greedy gardener, but I'll have to say that when I see a bean, I eat it. I don't run for the camera and I had to stop myself and save a handful to share with loving spouse! They were delicious and somehow I missed watching them grow. Seems like one day I saw the flowers and the next thing I knew, I was pigging out in the sun.

I did remember to grab the camera at mealtime though. This squash comes from the farmers market, Sister Squash has yet to flower at the Govumpella residence, but those are my 'maters n' beans! Whoohoo!

Disaster! squash vine borer...on my OTHER squash and pumpkin.

A few years back Bonnie, my first blogging mentor at Kiss of Sun wrote about the squash vine borer and I read it with disgust. Now I'm ready to dig the little bastards out with a knife too! Nothing makes me scream profanities in the garden like stink bugs and borers! My neighbors, I'm sure, think I'm a nut...standing there screaming and cussing! I'm simply not going to put poison on the earth so it's me against the bugs...and I aim to win! That being said, other than sugar ants on my corn...the sisters are safe.

Sister Bean loving on Sister Corn!

Look at that healthy squash! The corn and beans have been eaten...we're waiting for your heart to flower dear!

We just guessed as to when to check on the corn...the silk tassels had turned brown and they seemed pretty plump, sure enough...beautiful sweet corn!
Next year I'm going to plant a 10ft. x 10 ft. patch with as much variety as possible...I need to move the tomato patch anyway.
I'm pretty critical about American society being materialistic, fear based and scattered...but seeing this ancient tradition thrive in my backyard makes me feel home, rooted and okay. That was one fun, successful and delicious project...yum! I wish my sisters were here to share in the bounty...is there something strange about wanting your sisters to help you eat your other sisters? Just another day at Conscious Gardening.
Happy Gardening to you!


The Violet Fern said...

You said it SISTER! What a fun post! Although I've heard of it, I've never tried growing three sisters ... I should. Glad you have found your roots. I like to say I'm now root bound, too. Tired of moving and looking forward to seeing my garden grow up. Bon appetit!

catmint said...

Hi Cheryl, thanks for this - you gave me a good laugh although the post is also bitter sweet. I guess it's hard not be rooted when you've got plants and kids and 13 pets to consider! I'm awed by your energy.

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

My dad was in the Air Force so I moved around every couple of years all my life until I went off to college and settled in Austin. I loved moving. I loved the fresh start, the chance to explore new places, and to reinvent myself.

I felt so sorry for my son that he was born and raised in one place that when he was ten I took him to Japan for a year.

Except for that I've lived in Austin for 36 years. I feel pretty rooted now but whenever I travel I think how fun it would be to live there.

ConsciousGardener said...

mss...that was the good part about moving...the reinventing. I take that out on the interior of my house...you'll have to come to tea:)