Sunday, September 21, 2014


It’s late September and both the sun and the moon have taken on a rich golden cast. Tomato plants and bean vines turn to yellow skeletons, their arms spent from cradling the lush fruits of summer.

In my freezer, there are plastic storage bags of okra, peas, corn, peaches and tomatoes, neatly labeled and stacked. Some of these I grew, but most were received from the bounty of friends. “Hey, it’s Jenny. Are you sure you can’t use another basket of cucumbers?”

I’m writing about a stalwart pioneer woman today. In her September, harvest is heavy on her mind. Bags of squash and corn will not mysteriously appear on her doorstep. All summer, she has scraped powdery soil with a broken-handled hoe. When the rain came, it washed away most of the the corn seedlings. There were insects, and deer, and rabbits, and gophers. Oh, those blasted gophers. 

But, like a miracle, the garden took hold and she and the children have braided corn garlands until their hands hurt. The root crops will soon be dug, cleaned and stacked in the small cellar under the cabin floorboards. Her apple trees have finally begun bearing a modest crop and there will be strings of dried, sliced fruit hanging in the cabin. Her apron has carried bushels of wild persimmons and berries found along the creek, which she will crush and dry into fruit leather. With the venison her husband cures and some luck, they might not spend a long hungry winter.

I am thankful for her tenaciousness and graceful strength. She might have been my great-grandmother. Maybe I inherited some of her resolve. Today, as I write, we are sisters separated by a hundred and fifty years and mind-blowing technological advances. 

One more bushel of apples to peel, she says, stretching her aching back. One more paragraph, I say, as I start another pot of coffee and try to picture her face.

All the best, 

The Prairie Is My Garden
Harvey Dunn


  1. I could see the world as you told the story. Nicely done and I do believe we are connect to those pioneer women and men, that in our own way we have our 'gardens' to harvest. Doris

  2. Excellent. Thank you.

  3. Hello Vonn, I love this. Being an old 'farm girl' myself ,and still preserving my garden produce, (including drying, in an electric drying machine! What luxury!) I found this post chimed strongly with me, Haunting and lyrical. Thank you.

  4. Across the gulf of time, two sisters reach out to each other. Wonder what she would say about your world?

  5. Very nice. Thanks for posting that.

  6. I loved this, Vonn. Very nice post--and well said. I remember growing up how we used to go to my grandparents' house and help "bring in" the corn, beans, okra, and best of all--those glorious tomatoes that I could--and still can--eat my weight in. Mom didn't can a lot, but we did the freezer thing--putting up corn on the cob, okra, and some beans and tomatoes. Lots of memories in that!

  7. Glad you all enjoyed it. It was not what I intended to write when I sat at the computer. Just kinda happened.

  8. Yes, the fall and the harvesting of the garden! How Dad counted on me to water the garden and all summer I weeded and carried buckets of water. Every week through the summer we picked tomatoes, leaf lettuce, green onions, and radishes. In the fall, the six of us as a family harvested, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and beans.

    We relied on that garden to supplement our food. In the fall mother spent weeks canning jars for the winter. There were tomatoes, peaches, strawberries, and cherries. I can still see her red hands and face as she boiled away.

    The potatoes went in the bin in the basement cellar and the corn was frozen with the husks still on.

    From our own trees we picked apples, plums, and pears.

    Who can deny the vast work it took and the immense pleasure?


  9. I neglected to thank you for the article and for reminding me of these special memories.


  10. I enjoyed your post very much. In addition to the great pictures you used, I enjoyed in imagery of your words working the harvest, maybe something only someone who has done a little food preservation themselves can appreciate.

    Robyn Echols writing as Zina Abbott