Friday, January 16, 2009

We call it a . . .

Yes, I am behind on my Everyday Matters drawing challenges. I have kept up with doing them, just not with posting. So rather than bore you with the ones I have neglected to post, I am jumping to the current challenge, #206, "We call it a . . . " which in this case is called a "mess" of beans. I used watercolor and watercolor pencils in my landscape hand.book journal. So what is a "mess"? I'll tell you how I learned just how much a "mess" of something actually is.

Hubby and I bought our first house here in this southern mountain community in an older neighborhood right in town. Most of our neighbors were "locals". In these parts, one is only considered local if you can trace your family back at least six generations or more living in this particular county. If not, then you are "not from around here". Our "local" neighbors were quite friendly, most were much older than us, and always ready to offer help and advice to this new young couple from parts unknown living in their neighborhood.

Now, in this town, gardening is a competitive sport. Maybe because the summers are so short and summer temperatures can be rather cool. And maybe because we tend to get a good deal of rain in the summer months and have hard, rocky clay soil. Gardening can be challenging, to say the least. Every spring one of our neighbors would bring in his tractor from his farm and plow over a large plot in the lot next to our back yard. There he would plant neat rows of corn, some beans and cucumbers, and a few tomato plants. He also plowed a smaller section for another neighbor, Mrs. W., where she would plant her corn, beans, and cucumbers. Our first spring in that house this kindly neighbor plowed a section of our backyard for us so we, too, could begin a garden. I know these neighbors were privately laughing when they spied us building a series of square raised beds in that newly plowed plot and then consulting our treasured copy of All New Square Foot Gardening
to plan our planting for our vegetable garden. So obviously were we "not from around here".

During the summers we watched our garden of raised beds produce an abundance of wonderful vegies and would often chat with these neighbors over our by then constructed backyard fence about the trials of growing tomatoes and how best to get rid of the ever present slugs. Mrs. W. would often mention that she had spent an afternoon picking a "mess" of beans or corn from her small plot. I always assumed a "mess" meant 'a lot' and nodded impressively over the success of her growing season. Until one day she said that she had worked so hard picking two "messes" of beans. Then I was stumped. I had to ask, "so how much is a 'mess'?" Knowing she was amused by my non-local ignorance she told me that a "mess" was enough for a pot full, for one family meal. So that was cleared up. And now you know too.

17 comments:

Karen Winters said...

Great response to the challenge! Love the drawing and it was fun to read also!

So I wonder if someone is going to do

string beans vs. green beans vs. pole beans for another "we call it"

Spinneretta said...

Love it! My husband always calls it a mess- LOL I just assumed he meant a lot too *grin*. (His mother was from the North Carolina mountains- so that probably explains THAT then ;))
Love your mess :)

Spinneretta said...

Oh and I LOVE SFG- use it myself :)

rachelhoward said...

Wow, I didn't know that! You learn something every day. Love your picture too by the way!! :-)

Jennifer Rose said...

good to know :) ugh can't stand beans, but they made a pretty drawing :)

Margaret Ann said...

Great story and lovely well drawn beans....Hmmm, I never thought I would ever have the opportunity to say that to anyone! LOL :)

Teresa Mallen said...

The beans are great and so was the story. I grew up in a small farming community in the Ottawa Valley (Canada) and we used the "mess of" expression. Well, I actually still use it. :-) And yes, it is possible to have "messes" of something!!

Leslie said...

I love the drawing and the story! Here in Alabama we also call it a "mess" of beans. :) Oh, and I love SFG!! Isn't it the most logical way of gardening you can imagine? My mathmatical brain just soaked it up when I read the original SFG book 10 years ago! Love it.

Alissa said...

Lovely beans - I like the detail on the one at the front of the drawing. I have never heard of a mess of anything.

Physhy said...

Wonderful composition and feel. I knew 'a mess' meant 'a bunch' - but your neighbor's explanation is perfect. Wonderful story.

Teresa said...

Those beans look ready to go into a pot with a ham hock or slice of fat back... bet that's how your neighbors would cook them... that's how it's done by my neighbors in my part of NC. Personally, I go for a dash of olive oil and sea salt with my mess of beans!

Mary Timme said...

I had to laugh at the comment that gardening was a competitive sport where you live. We called a serving for a family a mess or a passel and that was fun for us, but we just lived on a hill in Nebraska where the wind blew and the garden would flourish. They don't call it a bread basket for nothing out there!

Brought back memories.

Marmsk said...

Great drawing and enjoyed the explanation of "a mess of", which has widened my understanding of colloquial language. Getting back to the beans, they look very fresh and ready to be made into a mess of beans!

Sasa said...

Charming story and a beautiful drawing! I love the empty space in the front.

freebird said...

Great story. I didn't know the correct meaning of "mess" either evidently. I hope you got a whole lot of messes that summer for yourself!

Kathleen said...

Love the sketch and as a newcomer to the south I am glad to learn one more "translation" of a southernism -

Ann said...

Thanks everyone!

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