If any Baboons chance to drive past my house today, they might see a strange sight. They might see me and hear me singing in the garden.
Last winter we got some Arikara bean seeds from a friend of ours from the Reservation. They are a bush bean that produces brown shellout beans. Our friend got them from a tribal elder some time ago. He is a pretty marginal gardener and he gave us the beans to grow in our garden. He is very excited for us to grow them, but he said there were a few things I had to do in order to plant them successfully.
First, I have to wear an apron and a scarf while I plant them. He told me his grandmother wore that when she planted and she was a good gardener. Second, I have to sing to the beans when I plant them. He wasn’t sure of the tune, since his grandmother whistled a barely discernible tune through her teeth while she planted. Oh, and I should make up some words to go with the song. He said not to worry if our Hidatsa pole beans felt jealous. They would be just fine.
My friend’s bean planting instructions are just like the directions he gives to find places on the Reservation-without GPS or a map you would never find your way.
I asked another Native friend what she would sing to the beans, and she said it was important that I compliment them. She is from the Cheyenne River Reservation and is Lakota. (In the same conversation I asked her the address of her new house. She said she wasn’t sure, but I could find it if I went down that one alley, the one with the 15 cats, and then turned left.) I mentioned her lyric suggestion to my bean bestowing friend, and he totally disagreed (Arikara and Lakota rarely agree), saying I had to plead with the beans when I planted them, telling them how much our survival depends on them.
I chose the tune to the Glow-Worm song, and came up with these lyrics:
Grow pretty beans, please heed us, heed us.
We need you so to feed us, feed us.
You’ll make us strong, please don’t take long, so grow pretty beans, please grow
Part of me thinks that my Native friends are pulling my leg, but hey, if it helps the garden, why not?
Make up some bean growing lyrics. Choose whatever tune you wish. How are you at giving directions?