A few days ago my husband showed me this meme. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I don't share much of my political opinion via Facebook or social media because I like to keep it light, and honestly I don't have the answers for our world today. I do know that when I was breaking beans with my "Nonna," things seemed much simpler. Maybe it was because I was young and ignorant of the problems of the world, maybe it was because I was sheltered, maybe everything was just easier back then.
Many of you know my sister Holly, and you know about the farm lifestyle she lives, planting her garden in the same soil my grandma and grandpa did for many, many years. Tonight I documented Holly teaching our daughters to pick and break beans.In these photos there is no presidential debate, there is no debate of whether or not "black lives matter," there is no racial or gender bias. There is simply a mom and two sweet girls returning to their roots- our roots, and "breakin' beans."
Every year, my grandma and grandpa planted a garden. It was amazing. Every year I remember them talking about how it was too much work, and how they wouldn't plant so many things the following year. We knew it was all talk- every year the garden grew larger, with more variety... and every winter our shelves were stocked with canned beans, tomatoes, pickles and more- enough to last through the winter months.
One of the things I love about my sister is her love for the earth- and the way she has taught Piper to love it as well. Piper feels as at home in the garden as I've ever seen her, her half-painted toes dirty with mud.
Real smiles. <3 One of the reasons I love this project is that there was no staging. Holly didn't put on special clothes, Kenna is wearing her mismatched bathing suit, and Piper in nothing but a cloth diaper. Memories happen when things aren't perfect- when we are in normal clothes and our lipstick isn't on. As photographers, it's easy to get caught up in "pretty photos" and lose sight of "real photos."
The amount of people who have told me that they'd give anything to have these kind of photos with their grandparents is overwhelming. I too, wish so much I had a photo of myself with "Nonna" and "Poppy" sitting on the porch shucking corn, breaking beans, or eating popsicles after the chores were finished. These are the kinds of photos I want to start taking, and these are the kind of photos that will make up my next project. (Stay tuned for the next blog post for details.)
My grandma washed dishes at this very sink for 30 years. Since then, the cabinets have been painted, new tile laid in the floor, and other home remodel done... but I can't help but feel closer to her in this house, and in the garden than anywhere else.
When did we complicate things? When did our country become so divided? We are so busy with the trials of the world that they have consumed us. Trump/Hillary, all lives/black lives, rich/poor... they're all divisions that are costing our country dearly. We haven't even acknowledged it because we are so fixed on being "right" that what we have forgotten what it's like to break beans.
Thank you for allowing me to share this story with you. I've had an overwhelming response, and I'm glad it's touched so many of you. I'd give anything to have these kind of photos of me with my grandma when she was alive. Let this be a reminder to you to cherish the time we have, return to the simple life, and never forget how to break beans.