Spring Time in the Valley

  Spring time here in the Central Valley starts a bit earlier than most places.  This year I planted my garden during mid February without any fear of the weather turning too cold.  I am already harvesting sweet peas and am about a week out from harvesting squash (and its only late April!).  The growing season here is amazing.

  Growing up, I attended Nile Garden Elementary School.  There are 2 elementary schools that are considered "country schools" in Manteca.  One on the far north side of town, and one way south.  Nile Garden was the southern one.  Across the street in the front of our school were almond orchards, and behind our school were fields for planting. Even though I grew up in a suburban track home, I was assigned to the country school.  Many of my friends had parents who were dairy farmers or crop farmers.  ALL of them originated from the Azores in Portugal.  Needless to say, there were quite a few Portuguese kids who attended school with me.

  I loved Nile Garden.  Because of the school's location, every Spring time (meaning February/March), you could see the farmers tilling the ground and getting ready to plant seeds.  The tractors would be driving on the other side of the chain link fence of our school; perfectly visible during recess.  It was such a normal occurrence, I didn't pay much attention to it.  In fact, I noticed it so little, it wasn't until I would come home that I realized ground prep had begun......because my mother could smell it.  For about a week every spring, my siblings and I would come home smelling like we had rolled around in manure.  At LEAST a change of clothes was required upon our return.  If my kids came home smelling like that now, they would probably just be hosed down before entering the house.  I was discussing the manure filled Nile Garden days with my sister.  She laughed and said "Is it bad that whenever I smell manure, it reminds me of home?"  It probably is.  But I have to admit, it reminds me of home too.


P.S. These pictures are literally taken right next to my elementary school.  Don't even get me started about my love for a good almond orchard.

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