Monday, May 2, 2016

Growing Cucumbers, Growing Writers

I had an amazing time this past weekend at the New England Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Conference (NE-SCBWI). One of the highlights was a two-hour writing workshop led by the amazingly talented Jo Knowles. She reminded us about the importance of writing for fun - not because you have a deadline or a project that needs work. Write about a memory from childhood, or use one of the great prompts she has on her website at Jo Knowles Prompts

As Spring blooms and buds here in New England, I am reminded of gardens. Gardening makes me think of my grandfather's garden, which then brings me to cucumbers. My mother's parents were Austrian, and we ate a LOT of cucumber salads for some reason. So here's one of my memories from a conference prompt, and here's to those gardens getting lots of rain here in New England today.

(Note to other teachers and librarians: Jo Knowles is part of a great online writing workshop started by authors Kate Messner and other writer/educators. It's called Teachers Write! and I'm taking part this summer. You can find more info here: Teachers Write 2016! )

Cucumbers in the Pantry

My grandmother would collect vegetables from the garden in her apron as she wore it. Sometimes she would use a dish towel for backup if the apron got full. 
Always cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, squash.
She would let me pluck and collect the bounty, leaving it on the counter in the pantry until it was needed.
I felt helpful, happy, to be with her. She was always so busy cooking, cleaning, washing. Often too busy to play with the after-school latch-key single-child granddaughter who lived with her.
But I could be useful, washing and peeling the cucumbers for the salad.
Always cucumber salad. Sometimes sour cream, sometimes vinegar.
The payoff for this work was getting to stand next to her in this small space, smelling the earthy, fresh vegetables and feeling the apron she always wore as it brushed against me and tickled my arm.
Always yellow pantry, white apron, green cucumbers.