Looking at Summer Vacation

Black ball bouncing
But Buick brakes
Before ball bursts

Call kids inside
Catch errant ball
Coolly chide child

Go get Granny
Go gentle girl
Gather green beans

Hold the hamper
Don’t hurry her
Helping her pick

Just jump higher
snap jutting pod
Lighting gas jets

I remember the summers my parents went in with a group of friends from church to plant a communal garden. It was a garden of such proportions that everyone was overwhelmed with the prospect of caring for it. Our whole summer vacation was punctuated by the garden. We’d be called in from play and off to the farm we’d go. As children, we were conscripted to assist in weeding, watering, and eventually harvesting. I didn’t mind watering. I could do it from afar. What I really didn’t want to do was weed, though I did my fair share. The most heinous activity was the harvest. I would volunteer to harvest the green beans because they would only have Japanese beetles on them (unlike the tomatoes with the big worms and the rotten ones that exploded in goo in your hand). Now there were 2 different kinds of beans – the pole beans and the bush beans. I was short and those pole beans were magnificently tall. My mother joked that we ended up with Jack’s beans and no doubt a giant was going to be climbing down into the garden any time. Nevertheless I would diligently harvest beans, which included me jumping up and down to snag the beans that were up high. At the time my grandmother wasn’t yet living with us but she’d come to the farm and help as best she could. That meant mostly supervising but she liked to pick beans too. So we were a team. I’d hold the wicker basket and she’d toss in the ones I couldn’t reach. After they were all picked, I’d haul them inside where they would be washed, the ends snapped off and snapped in half in preparation for blanching. Once the big pot of water was boiling I’d scoop handfuls into a wire basket that was lowered into the boiling water before being removed and dumped into the sink with ice water.

The poem above is a Novem. It is a poetic form invented by Robin Skelton. It is an unlimited number of 3 line stanza with 3 words per line with a strict syllable count. Line 1= 1/1/2, Line 2= 1/2/1, and Line 3= 2/1/1. If that weren’t enough each stanza must repeat a consonant sound 4 times.

35 thoughts on “Looking at Summer Vacation

  1. I have memories of snapping beans with Grandma, she picked them. Also of helping dad plant cabbages the deer got. We planted a field of them.

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    1. I don’t think many of the younger generations have those memories. Planting a garden was patriotic and practical, now there are kids that have no clue where eggs come from!

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  2. I’ve been a farm hand several times in my life, and enjoy the memories of bean (and other vegetable) harvests. I was 11 when I began the hard work, but all of the beans were reachable for me at that time. I remember one summer when I had to iron while others got to work in the fields. During the hot summertime (before a/c), the house was hotter than the fields. Whew!

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  3. We always had a backyard garden growing up. Cukes & tomatoes mostly. Nothing else did really well in the small patch of soil. What great memories you have of that time, as much as you didn’t want to do it!

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    1. It was definitely a bonding experience for the whole family. The garden produced so much that we had to invite friends to take what they wanted! We canned and froze so much the my dad had to build additional storage shelves in the garage for all the tomatoes, pickles, beans, and squash. The freezer was packed too. This is probably why I don’t like summer squash…

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  4. I’ve done my fair share of weeding, and I find it relaxing. My mother has a small farm, and the different beds seem to almost know her. The bumblebees scan her when she goes out in the later morning. It’s like, she’s back, guys.

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  5. Im smiling reading this Val..looks like a really beautiful memory and sadly though i have not experienced myself watering plants or helping with the harvest🙈🙈sounds really fun though

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  6. I gave up planting bush beans this year because my back can’t take the bending to harvest them and I don’t have a place for climbing beans. I laughed out loud at your squeamishness about the tomato worms when the Japanese beetles are way scarier.

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  7. Your poem reminds me of my husband’s childhood. His mother kept a three-acre garden, which is large. He had to work in it all the time, and as a result, he lost his taste for fresh vegetables. He actually prefers canned green beans!

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  8. I don’t believe we grew any vegetables, because we always got fresh vegies throughout the year. But remember picking mangoes, guavas, pomegranates, papayas, and oranges along with other fruits from the gardens.

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  9. We had a vegetable garden and mom was so proud of it. We also had pole beans the the beans that grew close to the ground (where slugs and spiders would cling to the beans). She would tell us which tomatoes could be harvested and which ones needed just a bit more time. Of course sometimes that didn’t workout because of rain, insects, birds etc…

    Oh gosh, you just sent me down memory lane!

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  10. I helped my parents and grandparents with gardens and animals. There were green beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, okra, watermelon all to be picked and prepared for freezing or canning. A lot of work, but I loved eating the fruits of our labor. 😉

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