Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Recently my friend wrote to me from Carolina about picking a mess of mustard greens, which by the way, I am "green" with envy as Wyoming grows few greens. In fact, I am not sure that many people in Wyoming know what mustard greens are. Boy! They do not know what they are missing!!! She and I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina and are extremely proud to brag about this fact. Our Carolina mountain language stands alone among many different dialects in the United States. I am proud to tell people of my birthplace when they cock their eyebrows in amusement and wonder at my accent.

Our expressions include the phrase, "a mess of " something. We grow large gardens which contain, potatoes, onions, peas, greens, green beans, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, okra and even some of the "flatlanders" food such as: butter beans, crowder peas, lima beans and butter beans. Much of the pleasure we enjoy from growing a large garden is being able to share with the neighbors who might or might not be blessed with such a variety of food. Therefore we ask our friends and neighbors if they would like "a mess of something". Now, I do not know exactly who figured out how much is contained in "a mess" but I am sure that it could depend on a variety of things.

I remember my 1985 garden better than most that I have grown for a number of reasons. My wonderful childhood friend and neighbor, Grace Carter Ray let me use some of her land for a garden for many years and it seems we always shared things. This particular year the Lord blessed my garden and I do believe I could have fed the county from it. Many visitors came and picked "greasy cornfield beans" as I truly had an over-abundance. I not only canned 252 quarts of my own but my friends and neighbors picked as much as bushels of their own. In this case, "a mess" might be considered a bushel or a peck or just whatever amount they picked. If my garden had not been so plentiful, then "a mess" might be just enough for a meal for their family. If the item were squash or tomatoes, "a mess" might be 3 or 4 tomatoes or just enough squash to fry for supper.

I truly love to put things in jars!!! I put almost any vegetable, fruit, fish or meat in jars. I put buttons, dice, thimbles, spools of thread, rocks, gems, match books and many more in jars. Once at a yard sale, I sold a quart jar of marbles for $40. Growing a garden makes me want to put more in jars! One could consider a quart of green beans "a mess" or a pint of bread-n-butter pickles. I am sure that each person who offers "a mess" to friends and neighbors have their own interpretation of "a mess" but all of us who grow and share gardens know that its the sharing that counts. Sharing "a mess o' somethin" gives us a chance to visit "over the garden fence" and catch up on happenings. Why don't you grow a garden and ask a friend or neighbor; "Would anyone like "a mess o' somethin"? Its a great way to share love and make new friends too.

Written by: Freda Holt