Thursday, April 21, 2005

Picking green beans yesterday

We went out to the fields at Hunsader's yesterday to gather a bushel of green beans. As I bent over to pick from the last half of the row, I wondered if the bean stalks were getting shorter or was I just getting taller.

THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION speaks to the subject of possible bias in eye-witness reports. Diligent genealogists must weigh the reliability of evidence presented from a variety of sources, before adding or subtracting someone from the family pedigree. To rely solely on the recollections of one individual or info from one contemporary source document, might have us barking up the wrong family tree.

As a little girl, my family would go about twice a season to work at our church's bean farm in the greater Seattle area. I was too little to remember WHERE it was. I do remember that it was a "welfare" farm, meaning that the crops were sent to the church cannery to provide food for the poor in our midst.

In the "good old days" I dreaded these hot, dusty farm jaunts. I guess I wasn't very charitable. Now I love "getting back to nature" and enjoy the crisp, sweetness of the fresh-picked beans.

Our job, during our first annual visit to the welfare farm, was to weed between the plants. We would then return at the end of the season to help bring in the crop. I remember sitting at the bases of a hundred and fifty million bean plants, picking the long stringers on the shady side of the rows. The disadvantage of a rare slight breeze was that it only served to stir up the dust from the dry top layer of soil.

My job yesterday was to have fun, pick some beans, and blanche some to put away for the off-season. But picking in either a bent-over or semi-crouched position would surely become backbreaking if one kept this up for more than an hour. I felt a lot more appreciative of the
migrant workers in the adjacent field.

SO WHAT WAS SO DIFFERENT ABOUT THESE TWO PERSPECTIVES, or was it just that my memory of the size of the job was failing me?

Back in the 1950s, I am sure that the daunting task of weeding two complete rows loomed large in my mind. As I considered the question, I smiled at my childhood memories. Then I literally laughed out loud as the answer became clear.

Are the bean stalks getting shorter or am I just getting taller?

Neither! The church welfare farm of the "olden days" grew "pole" beans, and yesterday I was picking "bush" beans.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207

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