What’s in Mrs. Hale’s Reciepts for the Million 1857?
1116. #2. Kitchen-gardeners would in a few days lose their crops of melons if not immediately fumigated with tobacco-smoke, when attacked by the red spider; and it is useful to destroy the black flies on cucumbers in frames.
My Father the Scientist
My father was a scientist who did secret work for Naval Ordinance during WW II. His specialty was electro-magnetics so he worked on projects that would disarm mines out on the shipping lanes of the Eastern Seaboard. (He got really excited when they captured a live German mine and had to study it) Sometimes, he would be gone for a couple of weeks, leaving my mother alone until she had my big brother. After the war, he worked for Naval Research and then moved us to Pittsburgh in the early 1950s for a new job managing a research lab for Westinghouse. By then there were five of us. During the early 60s, we moved again to Maryland. We graduated from high school, went off to college. Some time before the end of my senior year in college, he lost his job. It was hard times. That is when he began to dig up the front yard of their suburban home. He became a gardener.
My Father the Gardener
Over the 27 years they lived in that home, I often came in summer when the garden was in full go. In the early years when I lived in Hawaii, I would come home to see Dad on the couch reading organic farming magazines, plotting his next year’s plants. Later, he froze tomatoes for sauce, beans, made pesto from his basil. When they moved to Virginia to “retire” at 75, he built a larger garden and delighted in his prowess in urging good things from the earth. All this time he gardened and worked freelance in a variety of science-related jobs.
The Last Packet of Seeds
My father died in in August 2000. We all gathered around him in the hospital where he was on life support after a massive heart attack. Before we let him go, I gathered some veggies from his garden along with his Larousse dictionary and his gardening hat. After the memorial, I brought back packets of seeds from his garden and for the last 13 years have planted them in my own garden. Last year, I planted the last of his bean seeds. A few sprouted. Now I am down to the last packet. They hold dill seeds.
On this Father’s Day, I’ll put them into the ground and hope for the best. I too love to garden, to dig up dirt and see what the seeds and transplants will do for me. I hope for beets to roast .
And I will remember him. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.