Granddad’s Garden

Trailer of manureI did not expect the reverie that overwhelmed me

As I walked up to the lovely Bear Creek home.

It was dignified, expensive, and well-coiffed

Much too nice for the smell of manure that greeted me

As two workers tilled the natural fertilizer into flower beds.


What greeted me was the spring smell of childhood

As the yearly delivery of cow manure came to my grandfather’s

Garden where it would be turned into deep red tomatoes,

Bright yellow corn, and lovely green okra.  All the stuff of

Earthy meals in my grandmother’s hot kitchen.


The musty odor was like Chanel or Aramis and it still reminds

Of things that I love: family, work, care, food, and eating.

I played alongside my grandfather as he tilled the garden

And planted seeds he had ordered from his Burpee catalog

Which arrived in the winter and had its own smell.


I was a child when my grandfather died in a VA hospital

But the lessons I learned in his manure-rich garden

Still remain with me.  So also the lunches I would share

With him when I skipped down the hill from Oakhurst School

To his house and the kitchen where I spent so much time.


I was an adult when my grandmother died and was able to

Give the eulogy at her graveside, grateful for the

The opportunity to remember her fecund life

Much like the garden in her yard and the vegetables that

Grew in neat rows, nourished by the manure.


I rang the doorbell, but the smell of the compost excited

My mind, and I announced to the lady of the house

That in a few seconds I had relived a wonderful part

Of my past. All because of an aroma which connected

Me to loving grandparents and grand experiences.


The smell of manure soon goes away as it gives up itself

And merges with soil. It makes an abundant environment for life,

Which is exactly what my grandparents did for me.