Friday, July 8, 2011


As Dad did so many times, I went to his garden before breakfast- not just my breakfasts but before most of the neighbors. It was peaceful , cool and quiet since to -work traffic hadn't begun. I picked just-turning blueberries to beat the birds and then peas that  my brother-in-law Archie had planted.  Archie has planted Dad's garden for several years and this year, mostly after Dad had died.  Archie did it to satisfy Dad but also because Dad's garden plot was more productive than his.
Mom called this "Bill's Play Pen."  He had the chain link fence built to keep the deer out.  The t-shaped frames
were used to support a bird net and preserve the ripe blueberries. 

As I picked, I was wrapped in thoughts of Dad and a collection of essays by Wendell Berry, Fidelity. Wendell writes of people who demonstrate fidelity to their spouses, their friends, and their place ( their community and their land).

Dad could have been the main character in so many of Wendell's stories. Of course he was a solid rock companion to Mom for more than 71 years and a faithful father to Barbara Jean and me for just a few years less than that.  But his fidelity to his community, his church and his place is well demonstrated.  All the big rocks are gone from his garden spot but the remaining gravels keep the soil loose and well drained.  Kitchen waste weeds, pruned apple tree limbs and other organic matter had been turned into compost for may years and applied to make the hill-side garden a productive spot.

I told Grandson Joshua that when Dad purchased the original 3 acres on which he built his house and made our home the plot was lovingly called "Goat Hill."  But since we didn't have goats, locust brush, sassafras, poison ivy, and all other brushy undergrowth was removed by hand.

As I work around the place I am constantly reminded of Dad's frugality.  He usually fixed something rather than replace it. He did that for his hardware customers as well, and that was one of the things that kept his loyal customer base.  I guess that means he practiced fidelity with his resources.  That fidelity allowed him to die like he lived, debts all paid.

I just hope I can practice fidelity to Dad's principles and example and leave my "goat hill" a better place than I found it.


Curtis said...

Daughter Karen Vines responded;
"I'll add fidelity to his grandchildren. I sure do miss those phone chats we used to have, more than anyone can possibly imagine. And everytime I turn the handle on the composter I think of Granddaddy who passed it on so I could turn my rocky, hillside garden into a productive plot."

Curtis said...

Daughter Mindy McCulley responded to Karen"s post: 'Not more than anyone, Karen but more than anyone outside of his grandchildren, can imagine! I can't tell you how many days a Grandma or a Grandaddy thought, image or quote will run through my mind! As I have eaten fresh strawberries this spring, I have thought of Grandma's freezer jam. When I first got the word that blueberries were available at the Farmers Market, I thought of Grandaddy. When one of my homemakers came into the office the other day, a little more than damp, and said that the thunder had chased her out of the pool at the Y, I thought of Grandaddy and Bob and their swimming trips! So much of who I am, is a compilation of them! And I know that is the same for all my siblings!

Curtis said...

Karen followed with "Of course, during a thunderstorm I always remember all of Grandma's warnings - no talking on the phone, doing dishes, possible sewing with a needle

Curtis said...

Karen added "... remember how they used to get up early in the morning and go swim laps at the YMCA. Granddaddy wasn't much of a swimmer but he recognized the value of the exercise and did many a lap with a kickboard.

Curtis said...

Daughter-in-law Cindy wrote "What an amazing gift we have in an example of so many things to live by. I am so blessed by how much you love your Dad and how much your son loves and respects you. I see it in Ian too and the girls. They know their daddy and love him dearly. Yesterday, as David was in an interview, we were eating breakfast, so we all went around the table and prayed for him and Katie(21 months) said 'amen.' It was a precious moment. "