As primitive as life was on this farm, I loved how people treated each other and how we all shared our crops with our neighbors. It seemed like cities were prohibitively expensive because people tried to make money off of each other instead of lending a helping hand. Out in the farmlands, in contrast, no one went hungry because we traded raspberries for cherries, and tomatoes for corn. I learned how many ears of corn usually grew on a stalk, and Daddy Ray showed me how to dig deep down into the soil to determine if it was rich enough for the crop we wanted to plant.

"The roots of the cornstalks need to be at least four feet in the ground," Daddy Ray told me, "and the stalk will measure about eight to ten feet high. The longer the roots, the more ears of corn it will produce."

We were taught to respect and cherish the earth, something that has stayed with me for my entire life. When I hear the famous Joni Mitchell lyric "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot," I nod my head. I may not have been raised like a privileged city kid with a ton of new clothes and toys, but that means nothing, because when I was growing up, I got to live in paradise.

This is an excerpt from FOXY by Pam Grier, Andrea Cagan. Copyright © 2010 by Pam Grier, Andrea Cagan. Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


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