Fritjof was the fiddler at the dance where he met Olive in the summer of 1928. They were both smitten. After courting only four weeks, Fritjof explained that with the potato harvest approaching, there would be no time to call on her. He asked the lovely Olive to marry him immediately, but not wanting to rush into it, she made Fritjof wait until August 24, two more weeks.
During their years together, Grampa kept journals. Every day he wrote a few sentences about hunting or fishing trips, rainfall and snowfall, who came for Sunday dinners and birthday parties, and what he and Grammie were canning from the garden. There he recorded the events of their days, so on December 2, 1986, after 58 years of a fine marriage, Grampa wrote only two words, “Olive died.”
Sometimes without intending to, we carry on the habits of our ancestors. So it happened that I began to record small significances – visits with friends, what I wore to school, thoughts and poems – on bits of paper and in notebooks. Later as a busy young mother, descriptions of our daily lives together were written on calendars, and each child had a book filled with precious first words and sweet sayings: “The maid was in the garden clanging out the hose. Along came a blackbird and sniffed off her nose!”
My record keeping these days is more disciplined. Planting, weeding, mulching, harvesting and other farm chores are documented in a day planner. A gardener’s journal contains similar information, along with records of plant varieties, diseases and insect pests, successes and challenges, and what grew where.
So what advantages have I discovered as I’ve kept journals?
Prioritizing and Focus: The chores are endless and always will be. It’s all work that makes me happy, but it can be overwhelming without a plan. Creating a work list and checking jobs off as they are completed help me to accomplish more, even when inevitable interruptions change the course of my day.
Plant Identification: I wish I could always remember every plant’s name and variety, where I got it and when it was planted, but I can’t, and I don’t have to.
Buying Seeds: Records remind me what has grown well or tasted good to our family in the past and what we might not want to try again. Seed catalogs are delivered to my mailbox frequently at this time of year. If I want to add something to my wish list, tucking just the page containing the item and the ordering information into the journal reduces the clutter on my desk.
Tools and Equipment Purchases and Repairs: It’s helpful to know when and where I bought my tools, and who can help me fix them if I can’t do it myself.
The Fun Factor: Whenever I read about past seasons, there are moments of “Oh, yeah. I forgot about that.” There are entries about hail storms peppering holes in the bean plants. An after supper visit with a neighbor and her children in the sandbox became the perfect end to a day. A moose sighting on the snowshoe trail with a new puppy provided an amusing memory. As this often too busy life claims my attention, how long would I remember these things?
In this season of giving, a garden journal for a friend or for yourself can become the gift of recorded accomplishments and memories – a tool and a treasure for the keeping of days.
“Here, Mum. Here’s some flowers for ya with bugs in ‘um, but that’s OK. I squished ‘um. Smell ‘um, Mum!”
I was wondering who the people were when I started reading your post. What a wonderful photo of your grandparents! And the stories are so inspiring. You describe in such a lovely way the value of journaling!
My daughter gave me a small, easy to carry journal for Christmas, containing a section for recording visits to other gardens, which will be new. Any piece of paper can be a journal, but it’s fun to write in something lovely. The various sections of a gardening journal act as writing prompts for me. Thank you so much for your kind words!
Having a garden blog has given me a whole new appreciation for being organized. In the past, I might not of cared what variety of daylily I’d planted or the name of that rose I picked up on impulse. These days the embarrassment of admiting that I have no idea what a plant is called keeps me saving, organizing and filing all plant tags. I have not taken things to the next level and kept a journal, but I can see the huge advantages of creating more complete records. I just may give it a go in the new year.
Happy holidays to you and your family! All the best for 2013!
I really do enjoy keeping journals about what’s happening on this land, but I’ve also learned to make the writing about what makes me happy, and not the recording of a science project. The planting and growing evolve, as do the journals. If you try it, have fun with it! Happy holidays to you as well!
Ahh, discipline! How I wish I had that oomph to keep a journal. I once did, as a teenager, mainly a record of boyfriends and school happenings. A garden journal is an excellent idea. I loved the reflections about your grandparents. My own parents married after knowing each other three weeks and were married 64 years.
Three weeks? Is there an often told family story about their days (literally) of courting?