by Victoria Cunningham
Filled with excitement about spending another summer day with Grandmomma, I skip down Charmin Circle, the cloud of dust and dirt behind me growing with every step I take. A massive grin never leaves my face, despite the sweltering heat and the dirt that begins to coat my sandal-covered feet. Clusters of trees on either side of me begin to blur as my skipping turns into an eager sprint as I bound toward my Grandmomma’s house. Today is a special treat! Usually when I come to visit my Grandmomma, my sister or cousins accompany me, but today I have all of her attention to myself.
When I finally get to the end of the driveway, my eyes lock on Grandmomma’s tiny figure. She stands on her porch, wearing her usual gardening attire — a t-shirt, jean shorts and tennis shoes — waiting for my arrival as she always does when she knows I’m coming to visit. As soon as she notices me, she steps onto her tippy toes and waves with both hands enthusiastically, letting me know that she is just as excited to see me as I am to see her.
Finally getting to the porch of her tiny and homey abode, I hop up the old brick steps and side-step to avoid the green wagon that is filled with all of our gardening supplies — two green grocery baskets with black handles, several waters bottles that are already dripping with sweat, and what seems like hundreds of tiny seed packages that display the picture of a different plant on each one. Grandmomma wraps me into an enormous and affectionate hug. She smells of sunscreen, a warm summer’s day, and home. “Are you ready to go to the garden?” she asks, but the smile on her face tells me that she already knows the answer to that question.
We make our way to the bright-red gate, and I open it, its metal bars hot to the touch from the sun’s bright rays. Pulling the green wagon by its rubber black handle, I walk into my favorite place on Earth — a place full of life, a place full of happiness, a place full of childhood daydreams. To my right is my most prized conquest, the “Climbing Tree.” My cousins and I had spent many days climbing its rough limbs, earning scratches and calloused hands from our attempts to reach the crown of the tree. Eventually we had made our way to the very top, adrenaline pumping and elation spreading over us like a plague, despite the scratches all over our arms and legs.
As I continue walking past the Climbing Tree, my vision fills with rows of vegetables of all colors to my left; just name a plant and it probably thrives there — from cabbage, to tomatoes, to eggplant; we have just about everything. The sweet scent of life fills the air of our garden, and the sounds of it reward our ears – the constant and familiar cluck and crow of chickens, the buzzing of bees, and the rustling of the trees that thrive on the outskirts of the garden as the wind blows.
Grandmomma and I make our way to the large chicken coop that we made with our own hands and which holds all of my favorite feathered creatures. We step inside the cage, and the first thing I see is the chickens’ roosting area. There are six to seven wooden nests that are filled to the brim with straw, and in the middle of each, two to three oval-shaped, ivory eggs sit. Most of the chickens are in the connected area that is not roofed, only fenced in, that allows for them to get as much sunlight and time outside as they want, so getting the eggs is not a problem. We collect all the pale eggs, feeling the smooth, cool shell of each one, and place them into an empty coffee container in our wagon, sealing the top after we’re finished.
As Grandmomma and I take our leave from the chicken coop, we head straight down to what seems like a million rows of corn, a pollen-filled sea of yellow and green that also serves as a play area for my cousins and me. We played many games of “Children of the Corn” there, screaming and giggling with glee and made-up terror while we ran up and down the rows of corn, leaves from the stalks slapping us in the face all along the way as we tried to escape the unlucky one among us who had to play the villain.
“Our main job today is to pick all of the corn that’s ready,” Grandmomma tells me. We each take a green grocery basket off the wagon and get to work. I pick each ear of corn, feeling all the lumpy kernels that lie beneath their green husks. The sun beats down on us, causing sweat to drip down our backs, but we are content out here in our garden.
When we finally finish gathering the corn, we head back up past the chicken coop, straight past the vegetables, and up the creaking wooden ramp to our Garden Shed, an old but sturdy wooden building in which we take breaks when we’ve finished our work. Grandmomma twists and opens the lock on the huge and imposing door, and it screeches open, giving sight to the inside of our little home away from home. I walk inside, and I am met by the sound of the whirring fan that goes back and forth on repeat combined with the constant humming of the mini-fridge. Grandmomma reaches beside the fan to our dusty old radio and switches it to channel 89.3, His Radio. We each take a seat at the table that is situated in the middle of the building and we relax, listening to the Christian songs that come out of the speakers of the radio, talking about how hot the weather is today, and sipping out of our sweating water bottles, the taste revitalizing us in the way that only water can on a summer’s day.
Eventually the time for me to head back home arrives, and my grandmother once again wraps me up in her miniature, hearty embrace. She calls my mom to tell her I’m on the way and makes me promise to call her as soon as I get home. I walk out of the Garden Shed, turning around to wave and yell, “I love you!” every couple of minutes, and start skipping toward Grandmomma’s driveway. Clusters of trees on either side of me begin to blur, my skipping turns into an eager sprint, and clouds of dust and dirt trail behind me as I bound home, grinning with excitement about telling my mom all of the adventures that I experienced in the garden today.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.