Lessons from the Country Garden
Looking back, our humble garden on the Third Line, taught us some important life lessons.
We learned patience, in the long, slow, process, of waiting months, for the vegetables to grow.
We learned the value of careful watchfulness, making sure that the weeds were pulled, and the ground was kept moist.
3. Enjoying the Fruits of our Labour
We also learned the rewards of hard work, as we carried the ripened vegetables into the house, anticipating the flavours of summer.
4. A Penny Saved, is a Penny Earned
Another lesson was ‘thrift’, and the money that could be saved, in times when there wasn’t much money, in growing our food from seed.
5. A Quiet Mind
Most of all, we learned that working in the garden provided tranquility. It was an inner peace that comes from our hands working in the warm earth, and feeling the welcome heat of the sun soothing our faces and backs. Our country garden not only fed our bodies, but also nurtured our souls.
Mother’s Cucumber Salad
Mother made a special treat from our garden with cucumbers and onions, still warm from the earth. With a few simple ingredients, anyone can enjoy this gift from the ground, a Stafford family favourite. Prepared early on summer mornings, the mixture sat in a glass jar, on the old kitchen table, all day. As each of us passed by, our mouths watered, knowing those sweet, sharp, flavours would be the highlight of the evening meal…
2 cups water
1/3 cup vinegar (apple cider, white, and rice wine – your favourite)
2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1 to 2 tsp salt
2-3 sliced garden cucumbers
sliced onion or green onion 5 – 10 whole green onions – trimmed, or ½ c – 1 c sliced onion
Additional vegetables may be added (sliced sweet bell peppers, whole cherry tomatoes)
In a bowl, or large glass jar, add the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the onions and cucumbers.
Let stand for at least four hours, until you are ready to eat.
(you can refrigerate if you like, but our Mother let the mixture sit in a glass jar, on the kitchen table, from early morning, until supper time)
Arlene and Roger Stafford, with the family dog, Mike, near the old country garden, Stafford House, 1960s
Stafford House – home of our old-fashioned country vegetable garden, near Perth, Ontario
For 93 farm-fresh recipes and tales of growing up on a small farm in Tay Valley Township, Lanark County : ‘Recipes & Recollections – Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen’ –