I always wanted to live in the country. I've always lived in the city. For years I dreamed of what I would plant, what I would do when I moved to the country. Then, in early winter of 2006, my husband of 38 years said, "It's never going to happen. We are never moving to the country. I never knew you wanted to do that."
I was in shock! How could this man I had lived with for so many years not know this was a passionate desire of mine? I remembered sharing my thoughts with him on many occasions. I guess, bottom line, he just never got it that I was serious - possibly because he didn't want to. At any rate, my response was, "Okay. The yard is mine. I'm going to create a park."
So - that is how my garden began. I went outside that day, and began digging up my front yard, removing the Bermuda grass and the weeds. I bought a tiller, and plowed up my yard. I brought in bag after bag of compost, greensand, lava sand, dry molasses and cornmeal. I fought the Battle of the Weeds. It was a joy to share with my mother the progress I was making. She was so excited about my garden and always asked me to bring pictures, though she really couldn't see them.
That summer, my mother died, and I also began a project of scanning many albums of old family photos. As I did, I made a new connection to my ancestors, people who were connected to the soil. I especially loved this photo of my grandmother, the woman on the far left, working outside with her sisters. Her name was Katherine Louise Henriksen Erickson. It was from this woman that I experienced unconditional love. I remembered how much I loved the garden my parents used to tend in Watertown, South Dakota.
I also discovered, within the family albums, some great "touch the earth" pictures from my father's side of the family. I was amazed that with the help of a scanner, I was able to take original photos that were only 2 1/2 inches wide, hone in on a 1 inch segment, and blow it up into a good quality photo. Then, using Adobe Photoshop, I was able to touch up the photos, removing defects.
It felt like touching the past, and I connected with my roots in a profoundly deep way. In the picture to the right my father Walter Clarence Beglau, the child on the far right, stands on a tractor in a field in Judd, North Dakota with several of his siblings, his mother Katherine Fregin Beglau, and some other folks who I expect are cousins and aunts. I began to see that their farming was a family affair.
As I continued working in my own garden, I remembered Mom's homemade dill pickles, rhubarb pies, and playing King of the Mountain on the pile of dirt by the rhubarb plants. I imagined being out on the Dakota plains in the early 1900's gardening, not by choice, but by necessity. I imagined what my relatives would have thought of my little tiller.