Global Warming

You Need to Eat a Peck of Dirt in Your Lifetime

And Other Wisdom from My Grandma

Aunty Jean
4 min readMay 4, 2022
Photo by GraphiDA on Unsplash

On Sundays, we went to Grandma’s house. Aunts, uncles, and cousins gathered to talk, play, listen to a ballgame on the radio, try to win a hand at cards, and of course, to eat.

We shared a pot of Grandma’s “Portuguese soup”, ladled over chunks of dense bread at the bottom of our bowls.The bread was there to help “fill us up” and to allow the pot of soup to feed the 15 or more of us crammed around the small table in the basement kitchen.

Those Sundays were times for the cousins to play pretty much unsupervised. We played tag and hide ‘n seek, running barefoot through the dirt and grass. We would climb the pear tree or the cherry tree, or crawl on our bellies to squeeze in under the front porch to hide.

Grandma had two grape arbors that produced masses of sticky, thick-skinned grapes. We cousins would lie in the grass under the grapes, squeezing the fruit out of the skins right into our mouths.

None of the adults cared if we got filthy playing outside, or if we ate the unwashed fruit from the vines and trees. Grandma’s philosophy was that “eating a peck of dirt” over your lifetime is what kept you healthy. About the only rule concerning being clean was that we line up at the laundry sink in the basement to wash our hands and faces before sitting at the table. No one sat to eat without first washing their hands. That was table etiquette.

Those happy Sundays are memories from over 50 years ago.

Today, Grandma’s land has been divided into 3 small lots, with 3 small houses. The garden is gone, the grapes are gone, the fruit trees are gone. Taking care of the land was too much work for the younger generations.

Now, the children and grandchildren of the cousins sit indoors to watch TV and play video games. Refrigerators are raided, but no one shares a meal around the table; it’s just sort of grab and go. Arguments break out, as there is a lot of pent-up energy when a bunch of kids are crammed indoors, each wanting to change the TV channel, or waiting for their chance with the Play Station.



Aunty Jean

Constantly curious, dog-loving, anti-racism, politically progressive, book-loving, vegan lady. I want to keep learning every day, exploring other points of view