THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
From My Window
Issue Date: July 22, 2020
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
One of the joys of gardening is that period between the hard work of soil preparation and planting; and the busy period of picking and preserving. You have some weeding, and maybe some watering, but sometimes you are free to just walk through the garden, checking the plants and reveling in the anticipation of fresh, healthy produce raised at your own home.
A few weeks ago I was hunting through the bean plants, which were covered with flowers, looking for the first few tiny beans. My focus was on the end result of my efforts, that first utterly fresh serving of steamed green beans. But after I found the little baby beans I sought, I sat back on my heels and looked, really looked, at the hundreds of bean blossoms that precede the beans.
They were beautiful! How did I never notice that before? Their color was a cross between a delicate lavender and a warm pink " a color you could never replicate in a crayon. The flowers were delicate, almost like a tiny exotic orchid. Each blossom has the potential to turn into a bean, but even if not even a single bean graced the plant, looking at the blossoms was a revelation.
There are two kinds of plants in my garden. Vegetables and flowers. I have always rigidly classified them this way. But my epiphany on this hot morning was that some plants deserve credit as both, and the humble green bean is one of them. Next year I will celebrate the first bean flowers as joyfully as I celebrate the first tiny bean.
Current read: A throwback book, published in 1965 " "Fascinating Womanhood" by Helen B. Andelin. I first read this book in the early 70's " it was a best seller, and promised to teach you "how to be happy, feminine, adored and cherished" by your husband. My sister passed her yellow-with-age copy along recently, a relic of a sociology class, and I started re-reading it. At first it bemused me, but as I read on I was struck with a blinding glimpse of the obvious. It is a reminder, a very good one, of the prevailing attitude about the role of a wife in the 60's when I was growing up. It's a history lesson. It illustrates the reason why generations sometimes have wildly different opinions on topics. It was no doubt intended as a counterbalance to the nascent "women's liberation" movement of the late 60's, and presented an alternative, hyper-traditional, rigid and idealized model of what it meant to be a "successful" wife.
At times I still get frustrated that we don't have anywhere near a representative number of women as politicians, business leaders and in other influential occupations. But the book is not only both depressing and amusing, it's also a good reminder that progress, although frustratingly slow, has certainly been made.
I have passed the book on to my daughter who I doubt ever heard of it, and as my sister says, "I wish I could see her face" when she gets into it. She is further generations removed from the model presented in the book, and will no doubt find it astonishing.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.