The peonies are in bloom. If you go to our website, www.theopengatefarm.com you will see them. Or come out to the farm and you can purchase some blooms from these heirloom flowers to take home and fill your house with the scent of memories. Originally planted in 1943 by your farmer’s Grandpa Mac, these magenta and pink and white flowers are in their prime right now. You may want to bring your cameras.
And while you’re here, fill your salad bowls with the best lettuce we’ve seen in ages. Huge heads of sweet crunching that keep waistlines trim and bodies healthy. The Red Sails and Merlot are particularly stunning, though that butterhead, French Marvel of the Four Seasons, has been flying off the stand. Toss in a few of our snappy red radishes, a little oil and vinegar or creamy dressing with a bit of parmesan cheese on top and be ready to enjoy some fine dining right at home!
So print out this page of the newsletter and you’ll have your shopping list ready for Wednesday through Saturday, 9 to 5 (o.k., we are slow to close so maybe closer to 6):
|Bakery||Garden Center||The Farm Store|
|Huge Cinnamon Rolls @ $3.50||Lilac – double purple||Book – “Dear Friends” $14|
|Breads:||Columbine in bloom||Greeting Cards 5 / $7.50|
|Wednesday – Artisan White $6||Zinnias of all colors||Farm T-Shirts – $10 & $14|
|Thursday – Oatmeal Molasses $6||Dascia, soft on the eyes||Produce|
|Friday – Challah $8||Sages – purple, green, and ?||Kale – steaming good!|
|Saturday – Olive Boats!||Thyme – plenty of thyme here!||Radishes – crunchy zip|
|Cookies:||Red Hot Pokers!||Lettuce – 5 kinds!|
|Molasses Crinkles – $1||Spiderwort in bloom||Garlic Scapes|
|Petunias – still time for them!|
|Dill, dill, and more dill!|
|And more, lots more!!!|
The year 1943 was a year of pain. Their daughter, Joyce, had just died from tuberculosis and in their grief a garden of peonies was planted. We don’t know why Grandpa and Grandma chose peonies, but we’re glad they did. Doing something in memory of someone dear who dies has long been known to help with the healing of the broken heart, with the gaining of strength to carry on through the blinding pain.
When we lose the ability to care for someone we love, to then care for something as a substitute can provide a channel for the affections and emotions which will not stop, but which have to be redirected. Love is not controlled by a switch, to be turned on and off like a light. Once love is in place, so is commitment to care for the rest of our lives. That is part of the magic of parenthood…we discover we’re holding more than our baby in our arms, we are holding a commitment that will last all our lives long. We are holding a powerful emotion in our arms that will form and shape our days until we die.
We know ourselves how this can be. Having lost a seven year old son in an accident back in 1985, your farmers long ago realized that the dream of our farm could help carry us forward out of the valley of the shadow of death into the light of this new tomorrow. That was a dream that lifted us up in dark hours and has finally become real here at The Open Gate Farm. Here on this land is a place we can live out our commitments to each other, to our children, to our God, and to the life we do receive. So when you come visit, you are walking in our living memorial all of that. And if you look carefully, you might spot our special planting for Luke…a forsythia which often blooms around his birthday in March.
But one of the powerful testimonies in Grandpa and Grandma Mac’s peonies is that those bereaved parents stayed together through the hard, hard times the death of a child can bring. Statistically, 90% of all couples who lose a child get a divorce. But they didn’t. They somehow worked together through the pain, perhaps joining hearts with those who began losing children during World War II and then this loving couple lived to see their 50th wedding anniversary.
It may be that you or someone you know is going through a painful time, death, divorce, job loss, or loss of relationship. If you don’t, you may someday. And when that happens, perhaps you can find a bit of soil somewhere which you can dedicate to more than a grave, soil you can dedicate to life, the life of that which was and for which you and they can still care.
What would happen if before a judge granted a divorce, the couple was made to plant a tree together in their yard to memorialize all that had brought them together in the first place? Or if your marriage is on the rocks, you planted a bush with your spouse in the same spirit? What would happen if every parent of a wayward child took that child to a nursery and purchased a perennial and they planted it together and the child was told that forever more, every time the parent saw that plant they would be thinking of their child?
At Ben Franklin Elementary School in Kirkland, Washington, is a tree. It was planted those many years ago by the front door of the school in honor of our son, Luke. It lives on not just to help a community remember a child, but also to remind the children that accidents can never be anticipated, that they do happen, to be careful in all they do, but that when our lives are shredded and torn, there will always be a future.
There will be leaves that fall as the days get shorter, but new ones will come in the spring if we just wait. Days will lengthen once more and new life will stir again and we will be called out of the darkness and pain of our personal winter and into a new summer where we can smell heavenly peace in the sweet scent of forsythia and peonies.
Come to the farm. Come smell in the peonies now the memories of all that should have been but perhaps for you never will be. And come see the colors of leaf and blossom which call us into a new future.
So go in peace, plant, remember, and be healed.
Jon and Elaine, the memory planting farmers, Snickers the plant sniffing dog, Mystery the plant watching cat, Harley and his flock of hens who hide in the peonies, and the Parson Dudley Brown and his flock of compassionate ducks who protect the forsythia, all of whom live joyfully at
The Open Gate Farm