As a child, the garden was always "work." As far back as I can remember, my family preserved vegetables through canning and freezing, but that process always started with an enormous amount of raw stuff from wherever my dad got it - the bushels of green beans, the pickup truck load (no kidding) of sweet corn. If you had asked me back then if I would have a garden when I grew up, I would have likely dismissed the idea in favor of buying vegetables already preserved and avoiding the work.
All of that changed for me in the summer of 1997. I was living in Italy as an exchange student between high school and college. My family came from Italy in the early 1920's and I always had a desire to check the place out. For the most part, the year I was there was about having fun, learning a language and making friends. After school let out for the summer and I was coming up on my return home, my host dad suggested I go find where my family came from. One very long train ride later, I was in Siderno, Calabria, a nice little place with a gray pebble beach on the toe of Italy. My relatives, distant as they were, welcomed me in with a show of affection that startled me, even after being in kiss-on-two-cheeks Northern Italy for almost a year. I spent a week wandering around this little town, looking at olive groves, lying on the beach, eating everything that was given to me.
|My family's olive grove in Siderno|
|Domenico in his garden. I wish I took better pictures!|