"What’s in this row?”
"How ‘bout this row?”
Hester smiled brighter at the idea of having fresh peas from her Grandma Hannah’s garden. A few weeks ago Hannah had begun to slowly teach Hester how to weed and hoe and tend the little garden until the late afternoon sun became too obvious. Then they would sit on the back porch swing with a cool drink and talk. Two years ago Hester had been held back in her studies and her schoolmates who had moved on no longer wanted to play with her and she found the younger kids’ games childish and boring the second time around.
Seeing the child’s tension Hannah said "You and those little plants in the garden have much in common you know, Hester.”
"I’m not a pea plant Grandma!” Hester giggled.
"Well, no maybe not a pea plant, but a sweet little shoot pushing up to grow big and strong. After we have tended the garden and the plants are mature we will enjoy the fruits of the garden with vegetables and one day after you have tended the tasks of schoolwork you will enjoy the fruits of your labors with knowledge.”
A frown quickly clouded Hester’s bright smile. "Grandma Hannah I don’t think I want to tend my school garden anymore. I am all alone. My friends have moved on without me!” she wailed, the tears sitting on the edge of her eyelids ready to rush down her cheeks. Gathering the child in her arms Hannah rocked her until the tears dried and she fell softly to sleep.
As the days swiftly passed it wasn’t long until Hannah and Hester were happily enjoying fresh peas, beets, and beans. It was a bittersweet time for Hester because she knew that when the last of the vegetables had been eaten and canned it would be time for school.
When the first day of school arrived, Hester nervously walked hand-in-hand with Hannah to school. Along the way they reminisced about tending the garden and the fabulous vegetables they enjoyed. As they reached the schoolyard gates Grandma Hannah reached into her pocket and took out two pea seeds. Pressing the seeds into the tiny girls’ anxious, sweaty palm and closing her petite fingers tightly around the seeds Grandma Hannah said "Keep these in your pocket and on a rainy day when you are tired of tending your school garden take them out and think about our fresh vegetables and what we had to do to get them. Remember that no matter what type of garden you are tending there will be some sort of fruit to enjoy at the end. Know that some gardens are harder to tend than others. There may be more stones to move and more tilling of the soil required but if you try to remember how much you like peas and beans, the task will move more smoothly.”
Just then the morning bell rang and Hester swiftly tucked the seeds into her pocket, kissed her Grandma’s cheek and walked briskly through the schoolyard gates and into the school. Turning to leave, Hannah was met by a group of children yelling and laughing on their way through the gates. As they rushed by she thought about all the gardens she had planted over the years and all the fruit she had enjoyed. Reaching into her pocket her fingers found the bean seeds her mother had given her and as she started down the street towards home she smiled and thought, "Now what kind of fruit do I want to enjoy next?”
Lexia B. Baich is a writer and an accounting student at Malaspina University-College.