Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Father's Birthday

Today is my dad's birthday, and as I garden and grow influenced by a model of life my parents gave me, it isn't hard to wander through my yard and see my dad all over it.

While my mother is much more a visionary when it comes to design and a steel trap when it comes to remembering the specifics of individual plants and their needs, my father is more methodical. His vegetable gardens, unlike mine, have straight lines. Unlike me, he finishes garden projects in a timely manner instead of them lingering on in various states of completion until finally, finally, I manage to complete them. 

Dolly Parton's maiden bloom in the rose garden; my father loves music, and though Dolly Parton doesn't appear on his play lists, the fact that a musician lives in my rose garden is very appropriate. While I may be very wrong, I don't think there is a rose named Bruce Springsteen.

The earliest of my two apricot trees, Goldkist, is beginning to surrender its crop. When we lived in the Central Valley, we had a home orchard with several apricot trees; those are the first apricots I remember eating, and they shaped my expectations of what apricots should be. My father pruned, sprayed, and monitored those trees. I remember him directing me on which trees during their winter dormancy I should dump the manure I cleaned from my horse's stall. It seemed to me he had a system in his head of how much each tree needed.

The grapes have set fruit. My dad loves wine.

If my father hadn't gone into business after the Navy, perhaps a career as a history teacher would have suited him. Whenever he has a chance, Dad will teach anyone interested both the small, intimate stories of history and the big arcs that shaped the future. When I see Jefferson's poppy in my garden, I think of my dad.

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