Picking peas !

Have you ever been going about your daily chores, just minding your own business, maybe even humming a song,  when “wham”…you are back in time ?

Well it happened to me today. No, I don’t mean physically. I am referring to travelling back to my childhood memories. Of course it may of happened to you and it has happened to me before as well. But today was more unique than any other time. Wonder why?

I was outside when I experienced this blast back to my past, back well over to 50 years ago. Maybe it’s the Summer heat?  Maybe feeling nostalgic? Might be the smell of fresh turned soil in my garden?

It was a good day to do a bit of gardening because it was very hot and sunny outside.

As you know, I grew up on the prairies in Canada and if you have ever been there, you’ll know it is sunny with clear blue skies, often very hot and dry during the Summer, and come dusk, full of mosquitoes. Perhaps it was the mosquito buzzing around me in my garden that triggered my memory. Perhaps it was the peas.

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There I was, 1966, picking peas in our family’s нород (garden).  Mom and dad always planted a huge garden in the back of our yard. We relied on these garden vegetables to help us get through the winter months. Fresh produce was not only hard to come by in our small town but it was very expensive to buy in the stores. In fact, I never tasted store bought lettuce until I was in my late teens. Mom would preserve and freeze as many of the vegetables that she could. We stored jars of canned tomatoes, dill pickles, sauerkraut and pickled beets in our dirt root cellar. We also stored jute bags full of potatoes and carrots.

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Our garden provided a lot. Sometimes we even traded vegetables with other gardeners and farmers.

Any vegetable that you could imagine had a place to be planted and had to have time to grow. The plants needed to be watered, hoed and yes, weeded.

In the Spring, dad would borrow a tractor from my uncle (дядько метро) and till the soil. If he couldn’t borrow it, he turned the ground using a fork and shovel.  This usually happened after the May long weekend when the frost was finally out of the ground.  I close my eyes and can still smell the fresh turned soil.

My job was to help mom. I had to stand and hold one end of the 50 foot length of twine (wrapped around a stick), while mom measured out exactly where the other end would go. The rows had to be straight and evenly spaced. The сапа (hoe) was used to dig down 3-4 inches or more. The potato hills took up the most room, followed by the rows of corn. Then came the beans, the carrots, beets and of course the green peas.

Today, as I pick peas in my own garden, I am transformed back to my parents’ garden. I can still hear the pea pods snap open to reveal the tender young green peas. Maybe my mind is flooded with these memories because eating the peas in the garden back then was forbidden!  We were never allowed to eat the young peas until they were ready for picking. But it was so tempting.  While down on our hands and knees pulling weeds, the peas could very easily be snapped off and consumed well before mom noticed us munching them. Never mind about any of the dirt. It was all good.

My brothers, sister and I thought we were pretty clever, but I think mom knew. Perhaps that’s why we had the job of shelling the 5 gallon buckets full of peas a few weeks later in early August !

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Funny how working in my garden today brought on these memories. I picked the peas today from my garden and I’m going to add them to the borscht (борщ) that I made today. Mmm, no guilt here!  Смачний !

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Wonder what’ll happen when it’s time to pick the corn?

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