Lessons in Nature and Loving all Life

Posted by Rachel Y. Hill on

In case you haven't noticed from prior blogs of "My Journey", my grandparents were my first teachers and first real life exposure to nature, herbs, and aromatherapy.  Don't get me wrong, my parents exposed me to nature in a way that all parents do.  "Hey kid! Go outside and play! Don't come home till it's dark!"  My grandparents, on the other hand, had more time to engage and were happy to share their passions with a captive audience that they could send home. 

My fondest memories of my Grandpa Willie are that he had ginormous heart for nature, animals, and working in his garden.  He planted everything from watermelon to roses, and I never knew how he got so smart to bring life to so many different things at any time of year!  He would actually have me follow behind him with a bag of smelly fish heads that he got from the market.  I would try not to peek at the beady, little fish eyes staring back at me. I would close my eyes, hold my breath, and drop the fish heads in the holes he dug.  He would stick a plant in or drop some seeds, cover everything with his magic soil, badda bing badda boom!  Water and wait, that's what we did.

I thought my grandfather was a farmer and a cowboy, when I was a little girl. I was so proud.  That's exactly what I bragged to my classmates  His gardens he grew were so huge, I didn't know any better. If the other kids didn't believe me, I would bring a tomato or an ear of corn to class.  You can't deny an ear of corn can you???? 

Up at the crack of dawn, he was feeding birds, rabbits, squirrels, and any other animal that could get to the grub he put out quickly.  At any given time, we might see raccoons, possums (yes the night animals have to eat too!), cats, deer, and even the neighborhood kids were included!).  They all knew that Grandpa was going to feed them, and feed them well!  I remember Grandpa was burning leaves in his backyard, on a day he wasn't supposed to.  The cops showed up, did a light reprimand, and then they all were eating fried catfish and hot biscuits with him the next minute at the dining room table.  Grandpa always told me, "keep a garden baby, so you can feed your family and your friends!" He totally believed that is takes a garden to feed a village and sharing was a part of that lesson he taught me.

I hope my memories bring you as close to my grandpa as I was.  His spirit is a foundation for what drives Hen & Moon.  So winding down and wrapping up, the last memory I will share with you about him, is a memory I have of the day of his funeral.  The morning of his funeral, when we opened the blinds to let light in from the deck, the backyard was in full view.  I would have thought there was a zoo back there or something, OR the animals got the memo that Noah's Ark was re-boarding.  I had not seen that many animals within the city limits ever!  We counted about 40 animals in Grandpa's backyard.  I wish I had taken a picture.  It was truly an amazing sight to see a connection that an individual could have with so many animals.  T hey were quiet and just sat or perched, looking into the window.  They were paying reverence to their dear friend, showing up to share their love and say goodbye.  If that's not what actually happened, that is how I'd like to remember it.  

A country boy at heart who loved nature!