Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Toledo Talks - Working the Soil

Toledo Cats
Maybe the snow still covers the ground in some places, but down here in New Orleans, I can smell the soil. It calls me and makes me want to dig my hands into it and feel the worms squirm out from between my fingers. My family has always worked the soil.

Mama kept a garden, even after we moved to town. Each spring, I helped her plant herbs and flowers. She would tell me their purpose. Mama barely ever planted anything without a purpose. It's how she grew up. Of course, Mama could always find a purpose for just about any plant. Why would the Great Mother have put them here with no purpose?

Yes, I smell Mama in the springtime. But I also smell my Uncle Jesse. While Mama planted small gardens with her hands, Jesse planted fields of sugar cane. He would work all morning and come in for dinner around noon, glistening with sweat and grinning ear to ear. "The ground's good this year," he'd say. "We're gonna get ourselves a good crop of cane sugar." His eyes would glisten and by the time I was older, I knew cane sugar meant rum and rum meant sales...especially to Grumwald. But when I was younger, I was content to sneak into the fields and listen to him sing. Jesse's voice was so deep and wonderful. It transported me to other worlds...worlds I had not been to and neither had he....worlds he had learned of from the stories told by his father...my grandfather...who I never met.