I dug potatoes with our four year old son Peter tonight. Peter is a sensitive, abundantly energetic, and somewhat difficult child, but digging potatoes placed him in his element. The shrieks of glee and delight made the approximately 20 cents an hour I make raising vegetables for a small group of customers seem positively worth it. As I dug the potatoes, Peter would transfer them to an intricately patterned pile he had designed, all the while singing or narrating some story he had going concurrently in his head. Occasionally he would stop to show his mother some huge potato, explaining that digging potatoes was “wonderful.”
I was never given the opportunity as a boy to know a vegetable garden or the fruits of a garden. I’m embarrassed to admit that not until I was out of high school did I know a bulb of garlic was divided into cloves. So I can’t know what it is like to have one’s earliest memories connected to growing and eating produce so obviously connected to the earth. I can only hope that it is grounding, that it might shape one’s palate and understanding of preparing food, and that the growing and eating of food might become a source of delight and comfort to last throughout one’s life.