Friday, June 15, 2007
Happy Father's Day: Gardening and baking with Dad
When I think of all the values my father, Clovis Haynes, taught me, three words come to mind; love, strength and knowledge. My father encouraged me to show love and compassion for others, he showed me strength comes from within, even when you feel you have none, and reminded me that knowledge is a power that opens many doors to a bright future. Looking back on my childhood, my father's lessons and strong presence in my life grew from the many common interests we shared. From a love of gardening to a passion for cooking, the memories that surround our common interests make my relationship with my father all the more humorous and precious.
Gardening with my father at a young age was more of an adventure than work in my eyes. My memories begin with strawberry juices rolling down my chin like a waterfall. I recall as a small girl, perhaps two or three years old, wandering through my back yard eating red ripened strawberries fresh from the vine. My father had taught me to "only eat the red ones" and from then on, I knew how to pick my own. This simple lesson was later applied when my parents took me to a local field to pick strawberries. My mother reminisces about that particular day, for I ate my weight in berries. I learned my lesson so well that I applied it in the following way, one for the box, two for me, and so on.
As I grew, so did the lessons. My task soon transitioned from strawberry-picker (or eater) to expert weeder. I was often asked to stop because I was pulling up more than weeds. What can I say, in the beginning stages, all tomato plants look like weeds! My father never discouraged me, however. My job would be watering or helping to hold something that was heavier than I was. His passion for gardening became mine, as not only did we work, but had fun enjoying the many fruits of our labor. Hard work is a value that my father instilled within me at an early age, and it is something that I continue to demonstrate every day.
Even with all of the hard work, my father always had a way of making gardening fun. He would find caterpillars as thick as thumbs, and catch toads that would jump as high as the sky. We would spend hours outside; hands covered in dirt, smelling like mosquito repellent, and loving every minute. In the spring, when the sun was almost set, I can remember the slug hunts that I would take with my father. With a stick and a bowl of salt, I would follow my father into the garden looking for the "nasty slugs" that would eat the shrubs and plants in our garden. The tradition of the slug hunt still continues today, although the enemy is now the hornworm and its target is our tomato plants!
My love for cooking and baking began when I was very young. My father loved to "experiment" in the kitchen, and I would always watch as he created crazy combinations of food that would only appeal to his pallet. One of the fondest memories I have of baking with my father was making coconut bread (a native baked good from Barbados, where my father was born). There we would be, me in my red apron on a chair to reach the counter, and my father looking on while I was rolling out the dough in an odd shape. With flour all over myself and, of course, the kitchen, my mother would ask, "What are you doing, Jess?" I would reply, "We's baking, Mom!" Today, my father and I still enjoy gardening and cooking. Recently our common loves have expanded to the Carlisle Farmer's Market, where together we work to sell our homegrown fruits, vegetables and baked goods.
As I think about my father and celebrate him this Father's Day, I have grown to appreciate and respect him for not only the man that he is, but also the father that I have loved all along. He has taught me many things and has instilled within me wonderful values that many do not always recognize in today's world. While he will always be my father, as I have grown older he has become more — he is my friend. I look to him for comfort, advice and support. My father is a constant source of strength for me, and I know wholeheartedly that we will continue to share our love for gardening and cooking for many years. But for today, I will cherish the many memories that I have shared with my father and honor him for the wonderful father that he is.
Happy Father's Day, Dad! I love you.
© 2007 The Carlisle Mosquito