Monday, October 12, 2009

corny garden fun


If April showers bring May flowers . . .

what do May flowers bring?


Planting tulip bulbs Saturday I thought about my dad in his quilted plaid wool shirt raking leaves. His wavy rusty hair had gone gray in those later years, but I still see him standing in the russet maple leaves with matching hair blowing up like a flame to the sky.

Dad was a Baptist minister. He crafted words into two sermons every week, fifty weeks a year, one for the formal Sunday morning service and another for the more casual evening service. His words were not flowery, they were just right. He wanted the gospel to speak for itself through him, a simple vessel. His Virginian accent had softened so you could just barely tell he was Southern. My ever-supportive mother said every week, "Carl, that was the best sermon you have ever preached."

But when he was home, he hardly spoke. We - my mother and eight kids - had to guess what he was thinking. Sometimes he would sit at his end of the big dining table, put his fork down and wait while we figured out what he required. Was it the salt? The bread, butter? The peas? At last after we passed him two or three things he would help himself and we would go on with our own plates. I am guessing he thought the other nine of us talked enough and he just didn't want to add anything else to the room.

But both my parents loved words, the English language, witticisms and word plays of any kind. Nothing got my dad to chuckle through his teeth like a word play. He didn't write this verse I found, but it is just the kind of thing he would have memorized and recited with a big goofy smile.

Cabbage always has a heart;
Green beans string along.
You're such a Tomato,
Will you Peas to me belong?
You've been the Apple of my eye,
You know how much I care;
So Lettuce get together,
We'd make a perfect Pear.
Now, something's sure to Turnip,
To prove you can't be Beet;
So, if you Carrot all for me
Let's let our Tulips meet.
Don't Squash my hopes and dreams now,
Bee my Honey, dear;
Or tears will fill Potato's eyes,
While Sweet Corn lends an ear.
I'll Cauliflower shop and say
Your dreams are Parsley mine.
I'll work and share my Celery,
So be my Valentine.

"Let's let our Tulips meet."

Do you know about "spoonerisms"? Take a minute and at least read the first story of Rindercella, her mugly other and two sad bisters and how she eventually slopped her dripper for the prandsom hince to find who tried it on her mugly other and it fidn't dit.


♥ Braja said...

Yep, I woulda fallen for it and said "June bugs." :)

That last photo is spectacular....

♥ Braja said...

....and yes, I like your new header :)

J.G. said...

Spoonerisms never fail to crack me up. In case you haven't caught their act, the Capitol Steps comedy troop does a great job "wipping its flords" these days. When I hear them on the car radio, sometimes I have to pull over.

NJ said...

The tulips are beautiful. And spoonerisms...hmmm there are some people here in the country that just talk like that.

Sidney said...

The last picture is so beautiful !

Cute poem !

CottageGirl said...

You are so clever ... And your the last pic of the tulips is especially lovely!
Spoonerisms! I remember those!
Especially when I was going through menopause, I routinely came up with phrases like that and didn't even realize what a genius is was. ;->

CottageGirl said...

Oh ... BTW Love the new header!!

Nathan Carl Hart said...

In my youth, Grandpa Hart was a fascinating subject for me to study. Since his death and as I have grown up, he's only become more fascinating as I discover that, in many ways, I am him. It's deeply personal. I am compelled to think that I am capable of the same wonders but have been spared some of the same shadows.

Each of his kids seems to be shaped so much by him, both by his silence and his words (and similarly by his action and inaction). The disparity between "Pastor" and "dad" seems so vast.

I often desire to do a series of interviews with each of you, having you tell stories of him. Like the NPR Story Corps. It would be for the sake of learning about myself, really, but I think it could benefit others too.

Yes, I think I will endeavor to do this, if the siblings are willing.

ellen abbott said...

They are going to be so beautiful come spring. something to anticipate. And I too like the new header, perfect for the season.

Susan said...

I love Rindercella! You probably didn't watch Hee-Haw back in the day, but they used to do that one. It never failed to crack me up. "Slopped her dripper" is my favorite piece.

I also love a clever word play and try to embarass my children with them whenever possible. :)

Wouldn't you give a million dollars to know what your dad was thinking during those silent times? He sounds like a very complex man.

Pilgrims! Haha!

Susan said...

To Nathan:

You must write the Hart story! It is begging to be told!

Barry said...

With your dad's love of word play he would have enjoyed hearing William Spooner Archer's quamous flotes including "The lord is a shoving leopard," "It is kisstomary to cuss the bride,"

California Girl said...

sweet, clever and cute.

ds said...

Fuch sun!

I remember hearing the first one: sitting in the back of my grandmother's car, and she posed the question deadpan. My answer: brides? (we had just been to a cousin's wedding)
She also had another; the beginning is sketchy:
--I went to the ball last night.
--Oh really, what did Delaware?
--Idaho, Alaska....
--She wore her New Jersey!

Fanks thor me themories!

Pat said...

Wow - I must be living in a hole! I've never heard of spoonerisms! Where have I been?!

I enjoyed the story - especially the moral: "If you ever loll in fove with a prandsom hince, be sure and slop your dripper!" WORDS TO LIVE BY!!

Pat said...

P.S. Love your photos, and your new border is great!

Ruth said...

♥ Braja, hey, June bugs is good!

Thank you, and Happy Diwali.

Ruth said...

J.G., thank you, hopefully I can eck chout the Stapitol Ceps on the rar cadio sometime.

Ruth said...

NJ, ha. I listened to a few drunk Irishmen who sounded like this at 11 in the morning on the bitty suss.

Ruth said...

Sank you, Thidney!

Ruth said...

CottageGirl, so that's what it is! These flot hashes must be making me feel hight at rome in these goonerisms spalore.

Ruth said...

Oh, and I'm glad you like the header. :)

Ruth said...


I didn't realize the extent you felt that. I guess your middle namesake was considerably astute of your parents. Who knew then!

I am willing to do the Story project. Wouldn't it be fascinating to hear how differently we remember our parents and our life.

Fo gor it!

Ruth said...

Ellen, I tove lulips, don't you?

(This is getting ridiculous.)

Ruth said...

Susie, moo hee, not watch Hee Haw?? My brother Bennett loved it (the pretty girls in short shorts mostly, I think), so I watched it with him, and we would chuckle a lot. But I didn't remember that they did spoonerisms!

Yes, my dad was a momplex can, and wouldn't you know, when he bicked the kucket he was telling a joke about bicking the kucket?? He was waying with plords right up to the end, I just thought of that.

photowannabe said...

Well you certainly gave me my smile for the day. My Dad talked in spoonerisms and word plays all the time. It made for some hilareous times around the dinner table.
Thanks for sharing some things about your very complex Dad. I hope a journal does get wrteen about your family. It would be wonderful to read.

The Bug said...

My Dad is such a ham that I feel I must share this with him - but I'm afraid! He's bad enough as it is! When I was a kid he would start a story "This is the tale of the Pee Little Thrigs." Good times.

If you like gardening humor you might enjoy a little magazine that I get (of course, my Dad got it first & I had to have my very own subscription). It's called Green Prints ( It's great fun!

Ginnie said...

I'm not sure why I want to cry right now, Ruth, thinking about Dad and now Nathan wanting us to tell our stories. Actually, I want to sob. What's that about?

I'm very thankful you ended up with Rindercella. Ex-hubby Bill could recite that and bring a room to tears of laughter. He had the same kind of dead-pan, sheepish humor as Dad. They say we marry our fathers, right?

Babs-beetle said...

I do spoonerism speak all the time, and not deliberately!

And that last photo?..... Beautiful :)

Anet said...

I was groaning at the Mayflower joke! Funny:)
I planted 120 bulbs at the preschool with 4 year olds helping you!

cathyswatercolors said...

Not a spoonerism but cute, my good friend's dad would sing it as he walked up the driveway to his home swinging his lunch bucket. It goes- Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy a kid will eat ivy too how bout you?

Love this post your dad was like mine VERY quiet, tired from the day at work, we waited on him too,that is, if we could beat my mom to it. The hispanic culture leaves the girls alone and waits on the men folk. Of course I was a bra burner so that rule didn't apply to me:)

Ruth said...

Oh you got it, Barry, those are great. He would love to be able to say things that a minister souldn't shay. Wouldn't he have loved saying it is kisstomary to cuss the bride after marrying someone!

Oh now I am remembering some old phonograph albums of comedy that were at a cottage we used and he would listen and chuckle. They have nothing to do with spoonerisms though.

- "When's the last train to Buffalo?"

- "Last train to Buffalo!? You should live so long!"

Ruth said...

Hi, Galifornia Cirl, I could go on like this dall ay.

Ruth said...

DS, oh yes! Those are tun foo!

You could do a post on William Archibald Spooner, Warden of New College, Oxford, who actually did these accidentally. Here's another (Barry listed two):

"Three cheers for our queer old dean!" (dear old queen, referring to Queen Victoria)

Ruth said...

Hi, Pat! You are one person I think who could enjoy these things. I never knew until Barry's comment that these came from a real person, William Archibald Spooner, who did them accidentally. Here's another of his:

"Someone is occupewing my pie. Please sew me to another sheet." (occupying my me to another seat)

Ruth said...

Sue, in an out-take from Cagney and Lacy, Sharon Gless said "'comprinter pute-out'.

I'm glad you're feeling better. There is so much flu, here too, swine and otherwise.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

My father loved to garden. He always got such a kick when women would pull up as he was working in the flowers, in his oldest clothes and muddy boots, and ask him what he charged. They thought he was the gardener. Mother was mortified, but he was so tickled. Too early to plant bulbs here, but I'm planning!

Ruth said...

Ha, The Bug, I know what you mean about being afraid to tell your dad about this. Thank you for the link to Green Prints, it looks very sweet. I like this title of an article:

Dear Mr. President: It's great you have a garden, now you need chickens!

Ruth said...

Oh, Boots, I almost wrote about Bill in the post. His recitations were hilarious, and way more effective than reading one of these is. These word plays are meant to be oral and listened to, and when he got that cute little smirk on his face, just barely, and just kept going, it really was a treat. He was just so serious most of the time, so when you found out he had such a dry sense of humor and wit, it was a wonderful surprise.

I hope Nathan will go with this project too.

Ruth said...

Hi, Babs, yeah, about the spoonerisms, I know. :)

Ruth said...

Hi, Anet! I planted some allium bulbs too, and hopefully they won't get lost in the tulips.

Great idea to plant with kids. I wish we could do veggies year round and kids could learn about it. Well, Don's cousin does teach environmental studies and raises lettuces all year in greenhouses.

Ruth said...

Cathy, I know that one too! My sister Boots (Ginnie) used to sing it to me, I love how it rolls off the tongue.

I was shocked by my dad when I was in 5th grade and I was playing at a friend's house. My dad came to the house for a pastoral call, and I sat on the couch and listened to him talk to the family! He talked when he wasn't preaching! Something was revealed that day, and I can't say it made me very happy. But now I guess I can understand that it was his job to talk to them.

Ruth said...

Pamela, you must have lived in a grand neighborhood, wow.

Jeanie said...

Rindercella! I'd forgotten about her! This is such a rich, beautiful memoir of a man whose love of words, I think, clearly made an impact on your life. The poem is enchanting. And your photos, as always, are glorious!

gma said...

This is one of the most pleasant places to stop when I go blog visiting. Yours 'til the calves of your legs eat the corns on your toes.

Arti said...


I did my first snow shoveling today. The temp. has been in the minus these past few days. Seems like we're living in two different worlds. Tulips? Yes, usually we do see them in the spring, but this year we're just not given the chance even to plant them before it snows. However, as they say, if you don't like the weather here, wait 5 minutes... guess this time it'll have to be longer than that. Thanks for the photos and the words.

Ruth said...

Thank you so much, Jeanie!

You must be in fund raising mode now. :|

Ruth said...

Gemma, :). Crazy English.

Ruth said...

Oh wow, Arti, snow! We say the same thing about weather here in Michigan. I remember one year it snowed the first day of October. It was gone soon. It is actually quite chilly here, and I am getting ready to post about being ready for it. I'm a strange one.

GailO said...

A Halloween knock-knock joke for you from my 4 year old grandson who cracks up every time he hears it...

Who's there?
Boo who?
Don't cry...It's only a knock- knock joke!

I can't wait to tell him the Mayflower joke:)

Love your Halloween banner!

rauf said...

you can deliver one sermon Ruth, or once a year, when you have to deliver twice a week, choosing subjects is a tough job, specially in a town where not much is happening. And you have to think of devoted members of the Church who look up to the priest for guidance.
Its not easy. Too much pressure.

rauf said...

i have seen Orchids in the gardens here but not tulips Ruth, these tulips are like a family group picture, just lovely

Vagabonde said...

I had to read the poem a few times because English being the 3rd language I learnt it is difficult to read it in a different form. I mean word playing or words spelled differently, like Mark Twain does, is very hard for me. Also many jokes go right up over my head. I have been here many years but it is still difficult. I do have something in common with you though, my father did not talk much at all to me although now I have come to think it was because he had post traumatic stress disorder from the war and I did not realize it.

Ruth said...

Oliag, I used to tell that one too when I was your grandson's age! Another one was:

Who's there?
Banana who?
Who's there?
Banana who?
Who's there?
Banana who?
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana again?

Ruth said...

rauf, I never really thought about that, having to choose a new topic 100 times a year, in a small town. Maybe these days, with all the media outlets, there are many topics to choose from. Even though a lot was happening in the sixties, my dad would not venture into contemporary affairs directly in the pulpit. He spoke only specifically about the Bible, and he modeled his sermons after Billy Graham.

I think maybe your climate is too hot for tulips, I never thought about it. But to have orchids growing outside! That's something we won't see here. I remember reading that the Turkish Sultans would trade in tulips, worth a fortune.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, I do understand, but I didn't realize it before posting this. It makes complete sense that these word plays would be difficult for non-native speakers. Your English is perfect, but the challenge to read words whose letters have been transposed is more than I can ask you to attempt.

I am sorry about your father. It's good that you realized why he didn't talk much though. There are so many things we don't know about others, our parents included.

Debbie said...

I've a different version of Rindercella -- This one starts Twonce upon a wime, there was a gritty little pirl who lived with her two sugly isters and sticked weptmother. . . -- and then there is Beeping Sleuty who sat down at her winning speel and fricked her pinger!

sandy said...

Enjoyed my catch up here and lovely tulips, love those photographs.

~*~Magpie's Nest said...

Your blog header is just perfect with its harvest glow!
Seems I always say the same things when I come to visit ... Love your writing and how you look at things AND how it makes me think and feel!
You certainly have a gift with words Ruth!
I really do appreciate blogland along with your place in it!
~*~ Patty

Ruth said...

Oh, Debbie, that's good. It reminds me of what we called "Double Dutch" too: We would put "eez" before every syllable.

Weez-ee weez-ould peez-ut "eez-eez" beez-ee-feez-ore eez-ev-eez-er-eez-y seez-yll-eez-a-beez-le.


Ruth said...

Hi, Sandy, nice to see you.

Ruth said...

Well that is a very fine howdy do, Patty. Thank you.