Honoring our mothers uniquely beautiful spirits

Published 9:28 am Friday, May 10, 2013

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

~ Carl Sagan 

Out in the garden, fragrant irises bloom, delicate petals bruised by weekend rain, but resolute to enjoy their moment of glory. Many of mine came from my mother’s garden: Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and I find myself remembering her among those hardy iris blooms.

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My mother grew up in the throes of the Great Depression: her family grew and picked cotton and had a truck farm, working fields with a mule and plow. At Christmas, they were lucky to have an orange. My grandmother did laundry in large cast iron pots with homemade lye soap. Water came from a spring or hand-dug well. There was no plumbing: just an outhouse, and you always looked before using … just in case a black widow was lurking in the dark.

Over the years, my mother and I had a rocky relationship, but I know she loved me: my innate toughness and love of nature comes from her. We walked many a field gathering creasy greens, watching birds, hunting arrowheads, wandering paths and old logging roads through forests where old gold mines and Indian mounds were.

Her flower gardens were the envy of many: although when I was growing up, it was not exactly my cup of tea to help mow acres of lawn, haul mulch, water and weed. We kids were not allowed to sit in front of the television all day: although we got to watch Perry Mason, Walt Disney and I Love Lucy, if we behaved, and sometimes cartoons on Saturday morning IF we’d cleaned our rooms.

She knew how to trap rabbits, fish, set a broken bone, shoot a rifle, iron laundry, sew without a pattern, entertain as if she was in the White House, balance a budget, read, crochet and drive like a bullet. She knew how to find the North Star, had been close to polar bears, watched Eskimo whale hunts, been to the Artic Circle and watched Alaska’s Northern Lights in Point Barrow. She believed in equal rights. She loved Elvis, Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash and dancing. When cleaning, she’d hum or sing old church hymns from her childhood, with an angel’s voice. Her temper was Irish as was her red hair. Hickory switches were her weapon of choice with three kids; and she’d make you cut your own. She bought herself a full-length mink coat when I was 12, and loved big gaudy diamonds. She had a compost heap, recycled, loved good coffee and was a voracious reader. As a young woman, she’d worked at a WWII ammunitions plant, and then headed to Macon, Georgia for her nursing degree. Going to Alaska as a young nurse, she left behind the red clay fields of the South. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, past and present out there who make this world go round.

Saluda Tailgate Market starts at 4:30 p.m. at the city parking lot off Main Street. Offerings throughout the growing season include fresh vegetables, meat, fruit, honey, baked items, plants and much more. Many Saluda businesses will stay open later on Friday, so you can stop by after tailgate marketing!