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Friend of the world

“If you’re a friend of The World, you’re an enemy of God”, my Grandma Trapp used to say. She was a frighteningly intense woman of strong belief and an unforgiving nature. I feared her like little else but was also attracted to her strange intensity for the spiritual that I found lacking in my own nuclear family. We were frequent visitors to her home and when I was 9 my dad had a big ranch house built next to  the family farm and we were neighbors.

As idle hands are the devil’s workshop I largely tried to steer clear of her or I’d easily get pulled into some serious chores or at least a serious scolding for my sins were multitude. I wore shorts and was disrespectful of the Sabbath. My work effort was less than salutary and I was wasteful in many things. I had not lived through the Great Depression where the rag men came looking for scraps of cloth for their mysterious purposes. My life was one of leisure that surely was spoiling my immortal soul.

I didn’t attend church but for some reason was drawn to Camp Meetings and Revivals, probably for the road trip. Grandma would drive and preach on the wondrousness of The Lord, hands frequently leaving the wheel for halleluiahs and hosannas, God be praised. The family joke was that the fact she hadn’t wrapped the old Buick around a tree proved the existence of a watchful and caring Savior.

The sermons always delivered by intense and scary old white men with drawls and the occasional shooting of spittle were awe inspiring and terrifying. They were all on sin and Godlessness and apostasy and other cool sounding words that I stepped cautiously around if not understanding. At almost everyone I walked my sinful little self to the altar to beg for forgiveness and promise to do better. Promises forgotten before I finished the walk from her house to mine.

Grandma lived in an old farm house, dusty from the coal furnace. The entire upstairs was filled floor to ceiling with clutter with only walkways. She was incapable of throwing anything away. She didn’t pay for the rural trash service we did but would bring over her trash once a month or so, a coffee can of bottle lids and such. Everything else was saved, re-used, recycled, or burned in the coal furnace.

Grandma also was a devoted organic gardener, though she never used that term. She just gardened as she’d been taught. Her big money maker was the asparagus patch. She left some to go to seed and it seemed like such an easy piece of work. The Popster says their was metal wreckage, can’s old car frames and the like, buried under the patch. That asparagus does best in poor rocky soils and that was their way of duplicating such in the rich black soils of my childhood.

Grandma also read Organic Gardening magazine, and because I have been a literary addict since the age of 4, I did too. Wasn’t aught else to read at Grandma’s excepting the Bible. I became intrigued by double digging even though I wasn’t able to put it into practice until my teen years  when we moved into town and I got charge of the garden.

After we lost the house in Ida and the 9 acres of the family farm to the twin destroyers of rising diesel and deregulated shipping rates we moved into town. Ultimately we settled on Roeder Street and I put in the little garden bed behind the garage, mostly for tomatoes. The first year their was 4-6 inches of top soil but after close to 20 years of double digging the top soil went down two feet. I wish Grandma had lived longer, she died in my early 20s, when I was too young to look past the fire and brimstone and see the wealth of knowledge of days gone by. Nonetheless I learned a trick or two and for that I am thankful.

Categories: childhood, gardening
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