By Tiana Harmeson
Everyone has a memory of significance to them from their childhood. I have a few, but my fondest is the memories created in my mother’s garden.
Complaints that I would make as a child that I was bored and wanting to watch television always brought about her simple response, “Go outside and play in the garden then.”
I laugh about this now, even as I am writing it. An irritable thing to me at the time, but now…now it is a fond memory. A memory that has led me to many things I cherish and am very thankful for.
Thinking back, the memories that flood to me are not of school, of unwrapping presents, or those trying days of childhood. I remember the feelings. The rush of them, sometimes overwhelming in a good way, some not so much. Growing up can be hard, living life can be hard. Somehow being outside, having the wind toss you around up in a tree that you climbed as high as you could, or as high as you dared, was the most humbling and exhilarating experience. It’s an experience that you thrust yourself into, unknowing whether you will be safe. Trusting your body in its abilities and having faith. The trust then blossoms into an experience like no other that can flush you with success from your endeavours or a lesson you will certainly remember. It cleanses your soul and I believe it is the same with life.
I suppose it’s funny how little things can become so big, so influential to us. These things were important to her, so the importance was shown to me and grew with me over the years. The joys I have of gardening, baking and sewing, I know I owe to my mother. The memories of sneaking into the vegetable garden to steal those ripe red peppers or tomatoes she was growing, warm from the sun. Of climbing the many trees about our house, of building snow forts, and playing with animal figurines in the garden – her secret garden I used to call it, it all seemed so magical to me.
I may have been the one doing those things, building my love for all of it, but it was from her influence on me to not always choose the easy path, but rather, the most fulfilling path. The encouragement and decisions from her that were not always welcomed, but certainly were necessary. It created a foundation for my mental wellbeing, my calm, and also the way I desire to live my life.
In the kitchen, the excitement of smelling those delicious baked goods in the oven brought everyone out from their own spaces and, instead, together. She would tease saying we can’t have any yet but smiled as she scolded when we stole a few to eat anyways, giggling together as siblings do when they feel clever causing mischief (especially a tasty one).
The memories I have of crafting things together, making gifts for teachers, friends and neighbours. Being creative and thoughtful, thinking of each individual we made things for, making sure we didn’t miss anyone. Seeing the joy, gratitude and surprise on their faces while they accepted our humble gifts. I remember, as I got older, I would ask her why we couldn’t just buy a gift from a store. She would always respond with “There is nothing quite as special to gift to someone, as something you made yourself.” This has stayed with me through all these years.
So life continues to flow and to grow. I went off to find my own way as I grew older, only to realize that I was there all along. It took me a lot of lessons and failures to realize I just had to take a step back and really realize what was important to me. When it came time to choose a career path, I decided to look upon something I would enjoy doing for others instead of just myself. It was who I was, a part of me in my memories of what brought happiness. It was simple, it was sweet and it was baking.
So, I began my journey to becoming a Red Seal Baker. Through failures, successes and perseverance I successfully completed it through a series of years. It still brings me joy years later, to create something for others to be able to enjoy, for family and friends, for customers. To bring that bit of cheer to a stranger’s day. It took a lot of failures for me to learn my way, but those experiences helped me grow and learn better than anything else.
Having this realization made me jump right into our garden early on. It made me understand that having ideas, and trying them were the way I needed to go. To go into the unknown with just a plan, some ideas, seeds and to try them. Just try.
These lessons that we have, through experiences with our hands, build us into more knowledgeable, capable, and successful people. Those moments of hardship, when things don’t go quite as planned, are some of the best blocks for building resilience. You try again. You try differently, you remember. Sometimes a recipe just isn’t going to plan or your garden isn’t working out quite right, what do you do? You create change, you adapt it, you reshape it and you still find a success through it. It could be just a lesson, maybe, but that to me is still a success.
Every year we build and learn more. I learn through it all, sometimes even if that lesson is to accept that perhaps we should source a vegetable through a local farmer and continue onto other ones instead (cue the Cedars Farmers Market). I still struggle to grow a full carrot. Not because I can’t get them to sprout, or grow for that matter, but rather due to the excitement of having a fresh out-of-the-garden carrot that a 3 and 5 year old get. Patience is not the forefront for any child, let alone when the option to eat something tasty is right in front of your nose.
Before I knew it, every baby carrot was pulled and immediately snacked on. There goes the carrots. Some just aren’t meant to be for me at this time of my life, and I’m okay with that. The memories are there, being created. The tastes, smells, and feelings are being experienced that I had the pleasure to experience as a child and I now can provide for mine. The way it left the feeling in my soul, nourished; I want that for my own kids.
The joy on their faces as they snack in the middle of the bean patch, yanking any and all off just to devour, exclaiming how tasty they are, or playing ‘dinosaurs’ in the garden munching on fresh kale and lettuces, biting pieces right off our plants and roaring. The mess that gets made from the tomato juices dripping down their chins, or the trail of strawberry hulls after a few moments of picking as many as they can before trailing off to find the next treasure trove with sticky red fingers.
So even if I don’t get carrots, I wouldn’t change any of it.