Heirloom seeds connect us to history and bring ancestors to life. Cherokee Trail of Tears beans were carried over the Trail of Tears, the tragic forced march of thousands of Cherokee. One in four people on that death march perished. Twelve hundred brutal miles of walking and sickness and hunger and weariness. Historic reports tell stories of fourteen or fifteen people being buried at every stopping place along that heartbreaking trail.
The beans I planted today are the beans carried in pockets in the face of death and discouragement. It’s a poignant reminder why certain seeds are heirlooms–something of value passed down through generations.
My mom says my grandma grew the best green beans back in Minnesota from beans shared amongst the whole extended family first grown by my great aunt Myrtle. Its origins were lost so they became known within the family as Myrtle beans.
My mom got in touch with the historian of the family who still lives in the Midwest. He in turn talked to his cousin who has some old Myrtle beans she’s going to try to grow this summer. If they grow successfully, we’ve been promised bean seeds from those plants.
The faith the body and soul will be nourished if we persevere is in the hope the beans sprout–a faith in surviving and in living all peoples and all generations can share.