SELF ESTEEM SAMPLER
By Kay Walburger
Vera Jordan is Divinely Inspired By Tending a Garden of Earthly Delights!
Vivid watercolor paintings of luscious fruits and vibrant flowers grace the walls of a sanctuary in the midst of a glorious garden. The paintings were painted by Vera Jordan, and were inspired by tending gardens like the children’s garden. They speak eloquently of her reverence and delight in the earth’s gifts to us. The garden was started to teach young children how food and flowers grow from seeds they planted. Vera says many young children today think fresh fruits and vegetables just appear in the supermarkets, because they seldom have any firsthand experience of the magic of earth, sun, water, and love that make plants grow and food taste awesome.
The children’s garden is a crazy quilt of delectable things to see and eat. There is a patch of corn. A row of carrots over there nestled next to the spinach and assorted types of lettuce. A wandering vine of colorful nasturtiums joyfully dances roundabout the patches. Over here and over there are the cucumbers, turnips, beets, broccoli, and cauliflowers. Climbing tomato vines create a border on one side of the quilt. Often melon and pumpkin vines meander at will through the open spaces and run up to the stand of tall sunflowers, a favorite of the resident birds. Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn — flowers and vegetables grow harmoniously side by side. Assorted savory herbs form another border of the crazy quilt. The crown jewel of the garden is a patch of delectable boysenberries grown from canes Vera received as her living legacy from her grandmother’s berry patch years and years ago. Vera wishes all children could have a garden experience to help them enjoy and respect the nature of all life.
Delicious Childhood Memories!
Perhaps the reason Vera feels so strongly about gardening is because of her own childhood growing up next to her grandparent’s farm. In fact she is the fourth generation born to the land. Her great grandparents, Robert and Sarah, came to Santa Ana, California from Joplin, Missouri in a wagon drawn by a team of horses. They homesteaded 100 acres of swampy farmland next to the Santa Ana River and made a dyke to reclaim the land for farming. They built a house and raised lots of corn and five children. The 100 acres was divided into five 20-acre farms so each of their children received a farm on which to live. Vera’s grandmother Ona and grandfather Claud continued the farming tradition and raised sweet corn and later lima beans.
Vera said she had vivid memories of going on the wagon with her grandfather Claud, taking a load of sweet corn to Balboa Peninsula to sell to the residents. They did well because the wagon was empty coming home. She can remember a lot of good eating from the homegrown foods during her youth. One of her favorite memories as a child is picking boysenberries from their prickly canes and helping can some of them to enjoy later. Vera remembers how her grandmother Ona lovingly tended her rose and flower gardens. On Memorial Day she always took large bouquets of flowers in vases to put on family graves in loving memory of those passed on.
Ina and Ted, Vera’s parents, received an acre of land next to her grandparent’s farm. While her mother didn’t do much gardening, her father was the Nursery Stockman Foreman for the vast Irvine Ranch for 35 years. One of his many projects was being in charge of planting all the orange trees on the Ranch. He passed his love of the land onto his daughter Vera.
It was a delicious childhood of eating vine-ripened fresh fruits and vegetables full of flavor and nutrients. The peaches and pears grown on their own trees seemed better than average. Then there was fresh corn just picked from their truck garden. All great memories. “Tomatoes are especially better when vine ripened,” declares Vera.
School was only a mile walk for Vera who loved studying art with a teacher who came to school regularly. Vera had latent artistic talent but hers was a busy life as she married young and found herself full of activities with her three young children each born less than two years apart. First came Debra, then Curt and Martin — all were babies and toddlers at the same time. Cooking and cleaning for husband, C. J., a brick mason, and three small energetic kids was full-time work. Later when her children entered high school, Vera had more time to turn to her artistic pursuits. She took art classes in a local community-sponsored program and was excited to rediscover her talents.
Her early work was reality-style paintings, mostly of her beloved flowers from the garden. After a while she painted her watercolors in more of an impressionist style. Her paintings spoke of moods, colors and impressions she felt for her flowers. Now 25 years of art classes later she is thrilled by her new abstract art paintings. Her eyes light up and dance as she speaks about her newest adventure in the abstract.
Gardening as Worship
“For many years I was a Sunday school teacher and involved in many church activities like Summer Bible School. It was a special time for me and I loved it. Now I find that I feel closest to God while sitting in the dirt helping His world grow. I feel this is both my self-less service and my ministry, my ‘Labor of Love’. Each time someone stops to talk to me and tells how much he or she enjoys the children’s garden, I feel we are sharing a miracle. Sometimes they come out and help me and discover for themselves what it means to take part in the life cycles. There are some regulars who come and help with the garden and we enjoy our time in the sun, digging in the dirt or planting our seeds of blessings. When it’s time to harvest our crops we put them out for our guests to partake and enjoy the Bounty of God’s Love from the Garden of Earthly Delights!”
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