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(Not So) Common Sense | Gardening with Norman Rockwell

Has spring finally settled in? I ask myself that in late April, as the winds howl and rain gushes through our gutters. I can’t remember a time when winter held on as tight as it has this year, reluctant to loosen its grip and wait its turn to come back around. I get the feeling we’re going to go from cool and breezy to hot and humid overnight, don’t you? We’re just about due for some hot, sunny days strung together for a while, probably until late October. 

Carole Townsend

This past Saturday was a beautiful day, doubly so because we had our granddaughter with us. Ever since she learned to walk, we’ve taught her to love and appreciate flowers, birds, even bees, worms, and bugs. She has helped us plant our flowers and vegetables for two years now (she’s only 3 years old), and planting has become quite the family event every year. We taught our children the same love of nature and of gardening. It’s kind of cool to see them carry it into their own lives, however, it fits. 

I have to admit though, we bit off a little more than we could chew on Saturday. We knew the rain was coming, so we worked from dawn till dark trying to get everything in the ground. That’s a lot of digging, lifting, tilling and planting. My husband and I usually spread the same amount of work over several weekends, but the weather has been so cantankerous this spring, especially on the weekends. We figured we’d better take care of it all at once. 

Did I mention that we had a 3-year-old with us all weekend? We didn’t figure that into the big picture on Saturday. She was entertained, even helpful, for the first few hours. She really does love the process of gardening. She even loves the intermittent trips to home improvement stores to select more flowers, pots, and dirt. This time, Poppy (that’s my husband) bought her an Orange Crush at the checkout line –  a reward for all her hard work, digging, and sweating. You would have thought he had given her a new car, she was so excited. I cringed as I calculated the number of sugar grams she was tanking down, but still, I couldn’t help smiling. Days like this past Saturday are what it’s all about, in my opinion. Those are the days’ kids remember as they get older, the days that give them a sense of home and family. A sense of security. 

The second half of the day didn’t go as smoothly as the first. Muscles started aching. Knees started complaining, and let’s face it, a full day of planting doesn’t cut it for a 3-year-old. My husband gets tunnel vision when he’s working on such projects, so I would take periodic breaks to play catch with our grandbaby, or to get her snacks, or to wipe tears and brush off scraped knees a time or two. 

Our plan was to work in the yard up until 7:00 or so, then grill steaks and eat dinner on the porch as we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. The reality was a little less “Norman Rockwell.”  The garden tiller decided to give up the ghost halfway through turning the earth. Hubby’s frustration and expletives got it going again, but that took about an hour. It was about 8:30 when we finished, and steaks were not on the menu that night. Instead, I bathed our granddaughter (the water was cloudy with a mixture of red clay, chicken manure, bugs and potting soil). I showered and washed all the same down the drain as I did. My white bathroom rugs were smudged black, and I was too tired to care. I barely had the energy to call and order pizza. 

By the time hubby showered, he was so stiff and sore he could hardly move. When the doorbell rang and dinner arrived, all we wanted to do was scarf down a couple of pieces and relax on the sofa. Instead, as we scrounged for paper plates and Solo cups, our granddaughter had cleared the coffee table, placed a beach towel on it for a tablecloth, and she even found a centerpiece in her toy cabinet – a xylophone. It was adorable. You see, when she visits, we have Friday night “camp-outs,” when we set up her teepee, eat dinner in the family room and watch a movie of her choice. She loves it (and so do we). 

Seeing that coffee table, set by a sweet 3-year-old for our simple pizza dinner, made us both smile. It even made the aches and pains a little less bothersome. In fact, we got a second wind that night, as we ate pizza, watched a movie, laughed and talked for another hour or two. 

I hope Saturday is one of those days she remembers years from now, when she’s missing home during her first year of summer camp, or even college. I know I’ll file it away for safekeeping for a long time.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was named Finalist for 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in the Detective/Mystery genre. Her previous three books are written with loving humor about the South. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on, Barnes &, and at When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South. Follow Carole on Facebook (Carole Townsend-Author), Twitter @caroletownsend, or Instagram @carole.w.riter.