Sisters Three

“You keep your past by having sisters.  As you get older, they’re the only ones who don’t get bored if you talk about your memories.”   ~Deborah Moggach, British writer

I am blessed to have two sisters, both older than me.  We don’t have a brother; it’s just the three of us.  We’ve always been incredibly devoted to one another and we share more than just familial ties.

One of my sisters lives out-of-state, and when she ventures back to the homeland for a visit, we make sure the three of us have a “Sisters Day Out.”  We take pleasure in spending an entire day together, just the three of us, with no husbands or other family joining us.   And we’ve managed to accomplish this for at least the last 12 years, since I moved back to the homeland.

We typically commence in the morning by meeting for breakfast, followed by a marathon shopping excursion, consume some lunch and dinner somewhere in between, and then in the evening hours, recover in some tranquil spot.  There we just sit, enjoy each other’s company, and share our hearts in conversation.

And today we treasured another Sisters Day Out together.  Some of our friends are cognizant of our exclusive day and the bond we sisters share, and I’ve even heard people refer to as “The Three Sisters.”

This phrase, “The Three Sisters,” invokes a lot of images that materialize in my mind.  My husband, our three children, and I previously lived in the panoramically beautiful state of Oregon.   One of the intriguing geographical aspects of this state is an abundance of volcanoes.

In central Oregon, there is an area called Three Sisters Mountains in the Cascade Mountain Range.   In the picture at right, you can see for yourself how stunning they are.  I wouldn’t call us three sisters stunning, but we are steadfast just like that mountain range.  And there just might be a little volcanic action silently sleeping underneath.  If one of us were attacked by someone, I pity the attacker because we would defend one another with a burst of fiery words, much like a volcano spewing forth lava.

I vaguely remember reading Anton Chekhov’s play Three Sisters in one of my college drama classes.   Russian literature has never been my favorite, but the play’s title always reminds me of my sisters and me.  That’s where the resemblance ends though, because of course, we don’t live in Russia and we don’t have a brother as those three sisters did.

The sisters in the play are city girls, refined and cultured, who are frustrated having to live in a small provincial village.   We three sisters, on the other hand, are girls who grew up in a simple rural/small town area and would be frustrated living in the urban world.

I think perhaps we are more like “The Three Sisters” in gardening.  I’m not an expert on gardening.  As a child, the only gardening experience I received was weeding the garden, shelling the peas, husking the corn, snapping the beans.  My mother planned and planted the garden back then and it was always bountiful.

So I leave the how’s and why’s of gardening to my husband, a city boy who should have grown up in the country because he finds being outside planting vegetation irresistible!  My knowledge of gardening is limited to weeding (still!), harvesting, preparing, cooking and eating of the produce at our house.

But I’ve heard of an ancient method of gardening, which according to Iroquois Native American legend is entitled…you guessed it… “The Three Sisters.”  Apparently, those Native Americans believed corn, beans, and squash were precious gifts from the Great Spirit and were watched over by one of three sisters’ spirits.   Well, I don’t adhere to the spirit part of it, except to say I believe all of the earth, including the corn, beans, and squash, are precious gifts from our great and holy Almighty God.

However, I think “The Three Sisters” method of gardening describes us three sisters quite well.   Corn, beans, and squash are planted together in the same growing area, usually a rounded little hill of soil.    All three crops complement each other nutritionally and physically.

The corn provides a natural pole for the bean vines to climb.  The bean vines in turn help stabilize the corn plants to keep them from getting blown down.  And the squash vines act like a sort of mulch, protecting the crops from weeds and keeping in moisture.   The three crops all work together to protect and nourish each other.  Hmm…sounds just like my sisters and me.

A little research into this method of gardening provided me more information that seems to fit the three of us:

  • “Corn is the oldest sister.  She stands tall in the center.”   Guess what?  My oldest sister is actually quite tall, inches taller than her two younger sisters.  She is and always has been the one we look up to.   She’s the one with the thorough, think it through business-like mind, the one to turn to for advice.
  • “Squash is the next sister.  She grows over the mound, protecting her sisters from weeds and shades the soil from the sun with her leaves, keeping it cool and moist.”  Yep, that does describe my middle sister.  She is fiercely loyal, very protective.  She’s the one who loves to cook for us and take care of us.
  • “Beans are the third sister.  She climbs through squash and then up corn to bind all together as she reaches for the sun.  Beans help keep the soil fertile by converting the sun’s energy into nitrogen; and as beans grow, they use the stored nitrogen as food.”   That’s supposed to be me.

I’m hopeful that I fulfill my role as the bean – binding us all together, providing stability.   I know for certain I do indeed reach for the sun – the SON, Jesus Christ.   And I endeavor as best I can to use scriptural food, my kind of nitrogen,  to nourish all three of us.

Amazing, isn’t it, what God reveals to us through something so simple?

Although… something just now occurred to me… since I am the third sister, I am the one full of beans!

“To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other’s hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time.”  ~Writer Clara Ortega

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

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2 responses

  1. Hi,
    My name is Mel Landers. I am writing to ask permission to use your photo of the three sisters planting from your August 10, 2010 blog. I would like to use it on a page in a manual for indigenous agricultural promoters, to help them teach others in their communities. You would be blessing many people with this photo, if you will agree to allow me to use it.
    I live in Nicaragua. I am a teacher of ancient American agricultural methods, from before the European conquest. Like you my wife (Margarita) and I are also Christians working with Non profit organizations; only we work with them in the capacity of consultants rather than having full time jobs with them. I have spent forty two years studying and experimenting with Native American agriculture methods. But, unfortunately all but one of the photos I took when I was doing trials on my farm in the 80’s and 90’s were on film and were destroyed by humidity.
    Thank you for considering my request.
    Mel landers

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  2. Mel, thank you for asking about the photo I used on the three sisters post. Unfortunately it is not my own photo. I’m guessing I must have found it online somewhere, but I don’t recall what site it came from. Since I don’t own copyrights to the photo, I can’t grant permission for you to use it. I hope you can find a suitable photo elsewhere to use for your manual. Keep up the good work that it sounds like you and your wife are doing in Nicaragua. God bless you.

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