Today is Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy Week for many denominations in Western Christianity. That, of course, means Good Friday is five days away. And next Sunday is Easter.
Good Friday and Easter always bring to me good and fun memories of my paternal grandmother, Maude Ward Osborne.
Momaw, as my siblings and I called her (“mom” plus “awe”), was a devout Christian.
Good Friday, however, also meant Momaw marking a tradition not related to church. It was the day she made sure to first plant something in the garden. It was usually beans. Pink Tips, to be exact, according to my sister Pamela. She says she can vividly remember helping our grandparents plant a row or two of Pink Tip beans on Good Friday when she was eight or ten years old.
My memories of Momaw’s yearly bean-planting are from 30 years later, when she no longer had a large garden. On Good Friday, she’d plant a few beans in planters and pots around her porch, front yard and side terrace.
My impression from the way she spoke of it was that it was a long held practice she’d learned growing up with “Ma and Pa” Ward in Stickleyville, Virginia. I wouldn’t swear it under oath, but I think my Uncle Paul, a biology professor at The University of Lynchburg, would ask Momaw what she planted on Good Friday in what were his weekly letters “home.”
He wrote regularly from the time he left the family farm in Blackwater to study at Lincoln Memorial University until his failing health kept him from doing so. Momaw wrote back. Always. Stamps and stationary were essential items to keep on hand. Momaw and Uncle Paul died within a few months of one another in 1997. I have boxes of his letters to her. He and she absolutely raced one another to claim “first ripe tomato” each year.
A couple of weeks ago I asked Mom about the planting on Good Friday thing. She knew Momaw did so, but didn’t remember any such tradition from her own childhood on a farm in the Flower Gap community of Lee County, Virginia.
I had her call several of my Wallen cousins, especially the ones who in fact still “raise” large gardens each year. None of them plant anything on Good Friday.
Next I searched online. I learned there is an old custom some folks follow(ed): planting potatoes on Good Friday. Another source I found said this grew “across the South” to some planting as much in their garden as they could on Good Friday.
So, dear readers, do any of you know about planting on Good Friday being a thing in our region now or in the past?
I also mentioned “fun” Eastertime memories with Momaw. The biggest, of course, is her absolute love of dying eggs. She was an expert colorist. Her turquoise simply could not be matched. Whether she was doing one dozen or three dozen, and especially if any of us grandchildren were present, she would have just about every teacup in her kitchen on the table with a different color, varying in shades from pastel to bold.
One Easter when I was still young enough to want to hunt eggs, I was sick. Momaw stayed home with me while the rest of the family went to church. I asked her, of course, to conduct my very own egg hunt. In the house. She obliged, hiding a large number of her perfectly dyed boiled eggs in all parts of the house.
I hunted. I found. I hunted and found more. By the time everyone got home from church I had refilled the basket of eggs. Almost.
We didn’t realize the “almost” part for a few days. That’s when the one egg I’d missed began to really smell like … a rotten egg. We searched high and low. Dad eventually found the rotten egg hidden behind logs in the living room fireplace.
And that was the last time Momaw and I were allowed to hide eggs in the house.
Speaking of the outdoors, I’m looking for suggestions for Sunrise Easter Services in the area. If you know of one, let me know.
Have a bleesed Holy Week. See you on Easter.