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Pecan Pie for the Mind: Dont let your kids unionize over backyard gardening
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Once this cold weather ends, it'll be gardening time. Now, I don't know if you give a hoot about growing peppers, tomatoes, and squash, but I learned how to garden at a very early age, and I have some strong opinions on the subject. And rolling around with all the great memories from those times is a painful recollection of feeling like an overworked serf, ill-treated peasant and underpaid sharecropper rolled into one - sort of the way most Americans feel today. I'm pretty sure gardening is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done, but I know it's been one of the most frustrating.

I would spend perfectly good Saturdays picking tomatoes, hoeing weeds, tilling furrows, or snapping beans. Most reasonable adults avoid working in Georgia red clay, under a hot summer sun, while fighting off the sting of hairy okra pods, and everyone knows that hard work isn't high on any 12-year-old kid's agenda. But there I was - constantly hot, itchy, grumpy, and missing the fun I knew all my friends were having. Their parents didn't have gardens. Their vegetables came from the local A&P, and they played ball on Saturdays. I watered tomatoes and checked corn tassels for bugs. So, I hated gardening.

As I grew up, I began to see gardening as more than a hated chore. It actually began to be fun. I remember the time one of my boys and I fought off a late freeze. Our backyard was dotted with little plastic cups, each one covering a shivering, tiny tomato plant. I remember a family meal of freshly picked yellow squash, cooked to perfection. Squash is ridiculously easy to grow. Go on vacation, and your backyard will be a sea of yellow.

If you want to spend some quality time with your kids, take up gardening, but don't go wild and plant acres of veggies. If you make gardening into a major chore, you'll be sorry. You might even incur the wrath of your kids, who - with the advent of the internet - can easily contact the AFL-CIO's Farm Labor Organizing Committee and try to unionize before bedtime snacks. By the way - I was ready to pay my union dues back in 1972, had anyone bothered to call. But I guess the unions weren't interested in dealing with irate 12-year-old sharecroppers. We can be pretty dangerous, you know. And we know how to use the business end of a hoe.

David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at