Growing up in Austin, I have come to see the city change with my own eyes and have dealt with the hot summers and wet winters of Texas. With the unpredictability of Texas weather, I am prone to getting sick often. I have common allergies, but asthma as well. Because of this, I’m always cautious of how long I spend outside. Yet I always enjoy looking at the plants in my backyard. While I currently live on campus, I go back home at least once a week. One of the visits was during the second week of classes, when we had received the first rainfall of 2015. In my family’s small backyard, my mom has some herbs and plant she grows.
Because of the rain we received January 21st through the 23rd, I did not expect to see many plants growing. With the 52°F temperature and rain, I sat outside around 5 PM. The first thing that t saw was how green the grass was amongst the muddy ground. Around this time of the year, most of the plants and grass are dormant, sometimes yellow and dry from the lack of water.
The most surprising thing however was the Yerba Buena (Spanish for spearmint) plant that is currently growing. Despite the cold weather, it is still producing leaves that my family uses in home remedies and recipes. In my family, we wait until the plant has grown some more before we start to use the leaves in our kitchen. While observing the garden, I heard no animals, just the rain falling, the wind howling and cars on the road.
I never expect my mom’s mini-sized garden to flourish in the winter, because it has never done so in the past. When Spring arrives, we usually buy new herb shrubs if the ones we have didn’t survive the winter. There are not many animals around in the area where I live apart from pets. In warmer weather, I hear birds, but I can never spot them. In other parts of Austin, I primarily see either crows or pigeons.
In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold states that “In civilized peoples the cultural base shifts elsewhere, but the culture nevertheless retains part of its wild roots” (177). My mom’s garden reminds me of where I come from. My family’s origin lies in Mexico and from what I know, I have both Spanish and indigenous blood. The garden itself, I think represents some of that history. When I was in high school, I learned that agriculture has played and important in how humans have gotten their food. Global human interactions have caused problems but they also have left us with more to think about.
Personally, I have become more curious about my role in the small ecosystem that lies in my backyard. By growing some of the ingredients my family uses, what will that mean for future generations? When Spring comes again in March, will the Yerba Buena plant still continue to produce its leaves?