A tale of wonder written in the voice of child.
I think a good word for someone who is a grandparent and a baby boomer is “gigaboomer.” Gigaboomers are the new grandparents; they love to learn, and they love to teach their grandchildren about all kind of things.
It is hard to imagine my grandma as a baby, but she has the pictures to prove it. One picture shows her as a little girl standing next to a very tall beanstalk, which is climbing up a string leaning on the house where she grew up. I ask her if the picture was Photoshopped, and she tells me they didn’t have Photoshop back then.
Scarlet runner beans, small shovel, ball of string, stakes, scissors, garden gloves (optional)
How could that beanstalk be real? My grandma tells me that it is real but has a little bit of magic, too. When she was my age, her mother gave her some scarlet runner beans to plant in the yard. She planted the beans in the soil after the last frost and then did the hard part; she waited and waited to see what would happen. Just like in the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” the beans sprouted and then grew and grew and grew – going straight up toward the sky.
I beg my grandma to help me grow a beanstalk just like the one she grew when she was young. I wonder if my dad ever got to grow a beanstalk. Grandma says, “Yes,” my dad and his brothers grew one so tall it almost reached the top of the house. Wow! And now it is my turn, and maybe mine will grow even higher. We go outside with a packet of scarlet runner beans and pick a sunny spot near the house to plant them. Next my grandma disappears inside the house. I can hear her shouting from the second floor bathroom window, “Here, catch the ball of string. But wait, first I have to tie it to the toilet.” A moment later, I make the perfect catch, and Grandma is back outside helping me cut and tie the string to a stake in the ground. Now we have nothing left to do but wait.
It’s time for me to go back home, but my grandma and I stay in touch using Facetime almost every day as we wait for the beans to grow into sprouts and the sprouts to grow into long stems and the stems to grow pretty red flowers. After several weeks, the magic starts to bloom; there is a long green beanstalk with red flowers. My grandma even shares a video of a hummingbird zooming into a flower for a delicious drink of nectar.
By the time I get to go back to my grandparents for a visit, my beanstalk has reached the top of the house and beyond. Yeah, I beat my dad’s beanstalk by about a foot! We chop the beanstalk down and lay it across the yard. It looks like it goes on forever.
Together my grandma and I pick the pods from the beanstalk. Grandma hands me some beans “Here. These are for you to plant your own magic next year.”
What’s at the library?
“A Bean’s Life” by Angela Royston
“How Does a Seed Sprout?” by Melissa Stewart
“Ready Set Grow!” by DK Publishing
“Bean Thirteen” by Matthew McElligott
www.kidsgardening.org – Kids Gardening- resource of NGA
www.cdcg.org – Capital District Community Gardens
www.ccealbany.com – Cornell Cooperative Extension Service Albany County
www.garden.org – National Gardening Association (NGA)
Garden Education Day, Saturday, May 17, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. rain or shine, Cornell University Cooperative Extension Albany County, 24 Martin Road, Voorheesville
The Master Gardener Hotline, call with gardening questions, 765-3514, Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Squash Hunger Program with Capital District Community Gardens (June-October) www.cdcg.org.