Everything Was Neat and Tidy
by James Glaser
May 3. 2012
Bookmark and Share

I was driving down highway 90 from Madison to Monticello in North Florida this morning. Highway 90 is the old highway that has been replaced by the interstate, but it is still used to go from small town to small town as it passes right through the center of each. That center is usually the old downtown, and you can see how the interstate has devastated the commercial district of every community that has been by-passed. On my trip I went through Greenville, the town Ray Charles grew up in. I would have to guess that on this short 28 mile ride, I passed by about two and a half million wild flowers in yellow, blue, purple, and violet. Yes, it was beautiful.

North Florida is farm and ranch country. All the fields are planted, and you can see green plants starting in perfectly long rows, or cattle grazing in belly deep grass. There is a mixture of large old farm houses set back from the road with wrought iron gated driveways, to old 1960s single wide mobile homes that are in tough shape. There are even some of the old Cracker houses that were probably built before the turn of the century. That would be the turn of the last century a hundred and eleven years ago

As you drive by, you can get some sense of what the people are like living along this highway. Some old homes look like they have been taken care of from day one, and others have not seen new paint in decades. Some people never sell their cars or pickups, but just leave them in the yard, and you can see they have either used or sold parts off them.

Some yards are mowed and trimmed up nicely, and others look like the pasture grows right up to the door. Some yards are clean and others look like they just moved out an overflowing dumpster, and the yard is just filled with trash.

It makes you wonder about the people who live at these places and their stories. There was one thing that really stood out though and made some of the homes, in fact, most of them special—a garden. Every yard did not have a garden, but I would say most did. Some were small and some were huge, but every one of them was nice. They all looked neat and tidy. You could see that the earth was tilled with care, and the plants were in rows. Some were fenced and some were not, but every one of them was trash free, and I would be proud to have any of them.

Some of these gardens were set apart from the yard, and you might see a homemade bench near it. Some had store-bought fences and others were handmade and rather inventive. Now I was on the road driving by, but from that distance, every garden seemed to be well weeded and tended. Mine looks great from a distance, too. I do know though that even to have it looking good at a distance takes a lot of work, because in no time the weeds will take over if you don't keep at them.

I don't know why people who appear to not care about their personal surroundings can still have a neat and clean garden, but it sure is nice to see. Maybe it has something to do with working the soil, or the fact that a garden gives you results in such a short amount of time. You put a seed in the ground, and in a few days this little green stalk pokes out of the soil, and you start thinking about the tomatoes or beans that little shoot will soon be producing.

Maybe the people along highway 90 grew up on farms, and now they work other jobs. Perhaps they still remember how their parents taught them to do a garden. Maybe it is just the fact if you have nice rows, you will be able to better tell which is the plant you want to grow and what is the weed you want to pull.

Maybe gardens are a rural source of pride, and when neighbors come over, even if everything else is in chaos, that garden plot is a place you can take them and show off this talent you have for growing things.

It really doesn't matter to me why everyone along this highway has such nice vegetable gardens, but I must say they were lovely to see and gave me that little push I needed to come home and tend my garden a little bit longer.

Free JavaScripts provided
by The JavaScript Source

BACK to the Politics Columns.