–Kris Arbuckle, AmeriCorps member at High Rocks, Hillsboro, WV Gardening was deeply integrated into my life over a span of two years. It became a routine; second nature if you will. I’d get up go to school come home and head straight for the garden where my Pawpaw (great grandfather) would be waiting for me. We pulled weeds, watered and harvested crop when ready. Greens beans and peas stick out the most to me, they were quick and easy and always had to de-string them before Mawmaw (great grandmother) would cook them or can them.
This routine became a little harder after Mawmaw passed. Pawpaw wouldn’t want to go out to the garden every day like we use to in the previous year. He didn’t let that ruin my joy though he kept the garden going and picked up canning himself and my daily routine continued with the following year.
Everything went as normal for a year; I woke up went to school came home and then gardened. One day my routine started normal like always and I had not a second thought I came home and went straight to the garden like always only this time there was no Pawpaw. I wondered around the garden and even behind the corn to see if he was just hidden by the crop but there was no sign of Pawpaw. I ran up to the house to see if he had just lost track of time and was still in the house, still no Pawpaw.
I got a little worried but not enough for my 8 year old mind to think anything bad had happened.
Shortly after my mother came home and saw me looking for Pawpaw; we met eyes and my mother’s eyes started to water and my face became confused and curious. What was going on in my mind is only a mystery but what I did know is that it wasn’t good.
My mother sat me down and began to tell me in terms an 8 year old would understand that Pawpaw had passed and it was just us now. Instantly I ran out of the house and into the middle of the garden.
As days passed that turned into weeks I continued to try and garden but it had become very difficult for me to continue what I had started with my Pawpaw. Eventually I just quit and watched the garden wilt away as did my desire to continue to garden. I didn’t want to garden without him it didn’t seem right or fair.
I am 19 now it has been 11 years since I have even considered gardening again. I was asked to be a Grow Appalachia participant and wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it at first. I thought it over and decided it was time to pick gardening back up not only to get back to my roots of family and Appalachia but also to get closer to my Pawpaw. What I have decided to plant reminds me of my garden 11 years ago especially the corn. Corn started it all and I have never felt closer to my roots my family, my home and my Pawpaw other than when I am growing corn and other farm crop.
Never forget your roots your family and your heritage. Gardening brings me closer to mine, what brings you closer to your heritage family and roots?