Usually, my mail delivery is not very exciting. Other than seed catalogs, which stir the same sort of anticipation I used to feel when the Sears Christmas Wishbook arrived at our home, most of what is in my mailbox is pretty mundane. When I pulled the metal lid away last Monday, however, what I found inside was very much out of the ordinary and when I opened the padded manila envelope, tears blurred my eyes as I read handwritten notes and held precious small plastic bags full of family treasures.
Heirloom seeds in my mailbox? Much better than bills!
I reconnected with my cousin, Ruth Bolick, a few years ago when I was researching the source of my family's heirloom seeds. Ruth, the family historian, shared information that helped me trace my maternal lineage back to Mary "Polly" Schmidt (Smith) Bean, the woman who probably brought seeds with her when she immigrated from Germany in the early 1800s. Many Heart & Sole crops originate with this resourceful ancestor and when I opened the package from Ruth, the seed packets inside added another tangible link to Polly, my great-great-great-grandmother. No wonder my hands were shaking as I inventoried the gifts, which included family pumpkins and peas, as well as other heirloom seeds Ruth collected from friends and relatives years ago.
As with all heirlooms, each seed comes with a story and Ruth included a handwritten note with each packet. Especially intrigued by the black peanut seeds, I called Ruth to discuss their source.
|Peanuts are creamy white under the black skins|
|Black peanuts beside heirloom red-skinned peanuts|
As I plan where to plant these special seeds, there is a tiny voice inside that reminds me I promised to downsize garden space this year. I know, I know, but how to resist North Carolina Black Peanuts? Smaller garden? Maybe next year . . .