I have always been an “outdoor-kind of-gal”; some would even call me a “tomboy” because my favorite place was (anywhere) outside.
No matter the weather: cold, rainy, windy or sunny. I was one of those girls that would come in from outside “smelling like dirt” and sent right to the bath.
I did not care though; I had built a treehouse with my sisters, or climbed the tallest tree, skipped the longest rock or caught a cricket to terrify my oldest sister.
Being outside was liberating. It meant freedom to move, use your “outside voice”, feel the sun on your face, let the wind blow your hair, grow a flower or veggie or watch squirrels and birds make their homes.
As a child, we lived in a secluded, off-the-road, unincorporated neighborhood next to farmhouses and open land. We lived next to, NO KIDDING, a farmer named McDonald!! We were fascinated at how he planted, grew and harvested corn and soybeans. He was proud of being able to feed the community.
The love of the outdoors started early in my life. Both of my Grandparents (maternal and paternal) lived on farms and acres of land.
Our summers were spent visiting each set of Grandparents: one in Illinois and one in Kentucky.
So many great fun and scary memories still fuel my love for exploring, learning and loving our great lands.
My sisters (and later my younger brother) would create games and challenges and adventures that would take us all over their farms and gardens.
One summer, we traveled across the USA visiting historical landmarks and sacred lands of our indigenous brothers and sisters…. but that is another blog.
A small town with close neighbors and generations of farmers and laborers. *Before Pontiac prison. My Grandpa Ruby and Grandma Boswell had two big gardens on their land.
Every visit, whatever the season, we would walk and work side-by-side with my Grandparents prepping the soil (black dirt), weeding, seeding and loving the new life that would come forth.
Grandpa Ruby was patient. He would take the time to tell us about every seed, root, stem, even weeds that grew from his garden. It was almost like a spiritual journey.
The care and attention to his seedlings and blossoms was magical. Every season or harvest; the plants, flowers and vegetables would reward his caretaking with bountiful crops, trees and bushels of fruits and veggies.
Most he would give away (to us and neighbors) and the leftovers would end up on the dinner table. How I loved pulling fresh carrots from the black dirt, wiping them on my pants and eating them right out of the ground.
Grandpa Ruby would say, “God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt!”
I remember him telling us, “This land that we have been given is special. We are the stewards of this land. If you love it, care for it, respect it and till it; it will feed you, protect you and heal what ails you!”
My Grandpa Ruby was a wise self-taught man. He planted seeds of knowledge in me/us, and I am passing it on to my family (and friends).
My Granddaddy Cannon and Grandma Cannon lived on 36 acres in Nicholasville. It was not a common site to see a “colored man” own (and keep) that much land.
Key words here: OWN & KEEP. When my siblings and I would visit them for weeks during the summer, we learned entirely different lessons about loving, tending to and being stewards of the land.
Granddaddy Cannon’s land was used for commercial crops. Our time with him was spent learning the business of farming and tending to the land. He grew hemp in the 40s-60’s. Sometime in the 70’s, he changed his hemp fields into apple orchards. We would help harvest, inventory, clean, weigh, bag, negotiate and sell the apples. It was hard work, but great fun and a learning experience.
We learned that if you wanted the land to produce an organic crop and sustainable foods, you needed to responsibly farm the land and care for all its inhabitants. The family still owns those 36 acres.
Nothing got past my Granddaddy Cannon. He too was a wise man. He would read the Farmer’s Almanac to us and teach us about climate change, horticulture, agriculture, crop rotation and much more.
Granddaddy would always tell us, “If the land dies, man will too. Do your part to care for the land. Teach others. We have but one planet to share.” I did not fully understand what he was saying until some years later when I started learning and seeing the effects of corporate farming, over-fishing, poor crop rotation, soil erosion and water, air and ground pollution effecting climate change.
Why tell you all of this?
My wishes for you…
• You find (or expand your) love of the great outdoors.
• You find peace and comfort tending to the land on this great place called earth.
• Your outdoor activities, adventures and travels are filled with respect for the air, water and land.
• You learn the history of the places you travel.
• You give honor to and respect the original caretakers of the lands.
• You experience wonder, amazement and peace of mind.
If I continue to do MY PART and you do YOUR part and WE pass this love along…
We will have a chance to SAVE and ENJOY this land…this earth.