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Monday, January 14, 2013

Leland’s Garden

26th May 2012
Dear Cassi,

I wrote to you that grandpa Leland was a grower with his hands in the earth. This was a side aspect of his love for food and cooking. Ann hates to cook. Ann has always hated to cook. For many years Ann loved to have her only son Alan live with her because he did the cooking.
When she still shared a home with Leland he did the cooking and once more the children had their friends come over, more often than not, for dinner. It is my understanding that dinner was a big affair at the Neal house and Leland preferred to make more than his family could get down.
“The girls had this friend who only had hotdogs at her house so she came over for dinner almost every night. Leland never made hotdogs so when the girls wanted them they went over to their friend’s.” Ann told me a few times.
In this way Leland always had room for guests at dinner and Ann told me that every now and then they would look at his vegetables and say “what is this? I don’t eat this.” I learned this one day when I was making a roast and included parsnips.
At the time I had never before eaten parsnips but I had heard the name and decided I wanted to know what they were like. Leland grew them in his garden along with rhubarb and carrots. This is the extent of my knowledge of his garden.

Ann once told me that he would dry the carrot blossoms when they went to seed and grow new carrots from them. He would say that they never yielded as well as the seed he could buy. The old man probably kept this practice because he loved to have his hands in the earth. This is why I think of him as an earth spirit, because his connection with the natural world was very real.  

Love the natural world, little sister,

Richard Leland Neal