Growing up, working in the garden wasn’t my favorite chore, but it keep food on the table. My mom’s garden was truly impressive, it stretched over a full acre behind our house which was in the very middle of town. And lucky me, we didn’t have just one season of crops, but two thanks spring and fall. She grew everything: watermelons, potatoes, purple hull peas, butter beans, tomatoes, okra, squash, green onions and more.

The amount of food that came out of that garden was way more than we needed for our table. The extras would become a challenge so my mom would can a lot of them for use out of season. These canned tomatoes, beans, pickles and more would also become gifts to family and friends or just things that would find themselves on the porch of some of the elderly in our neighborhood. My mom saw a need and would fill a need.

As her garden grew, so did the gadgets; my favorite would be the sheller. We grew butter beans, purple hull peas and black eyed peas and we spent a lot of time shelling those beans and peas. Even the littles could shell them, so after dinner we would be spread around the living room watching TV as a family with everyone racing to finish their bowl of shelling first.

That pea sheller would change my limited little life.

It was a big deal when it showed up. We put a table outside under the carport to support the sheller. It was close to a wall outlet because that bad boy was electric. We would prep the peas by taking them straight from the garden to buckets of water. We had these huge metal tubs that we would soak the beans in (nothing like getting the chore of running from bucket to bucket plunging peas under cool water in the crazy heat).

Finally we would dump a fresh pan of peas on the sheller and carefully, watching our fingers as those big black rollers would crush anything in their path, we would push peas through and watch in wonder as they were separated. The peas or beans fell into a pan under the unit and the shell itself fell off the front into a bucket.

We could easily go through five gallons of peas at a time. It was a party under the carport! The best time was when night would fall, especially after a summer day of: working in the garden from before the heat set in, cleaning the house during the day, doing laundry and hanging everything on the line to dry, having a quick lunch and nap during the hottest part of the day (I actually spent that time reading in front of the big window fan in my bedroom), and spending the afternoon getting dinner ready. But at night, oh the fun would begin after sundown.

The carport lights would shine bright as the hum of the sheller machine and sound of the water hose on top of the machine kept everything fresh and moist. The loud beats of old rock pumped out of the window where a beatbox blared. We would take turns feeding beans and peas through the sheller while dancing to the beats. I learned to two-step with my momma under those carport lights while the mosquitoes and the crickets kept beat. The rest of the world was a blur while we were happy and content on the red dirt patch under the carport.

Life seemed so simple back then, we didn’t have much but what we had my mom presented in the very best light. Everything has music attached as we would find the beat in everything. We smiled and danced through the day and night ... it wasn’t about what we didn’t have or what we did… she made it about being together.

As age and time flies by, there are still times when I’m near her that I just want to grab her hand and swing her into a waltz ... ignoring everything around us and just dancing to the beat. Life is hard and there will always be hardship but oh, to find the music in anything and everything ... it’s beautiful.

— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.