8 April 2016
A cold day in the spring kept trading rain for snow then rain again but then in the middle of the afternoon, bright sunshine broke through and it seemed like a good time to check in at the community garden to see if any tools needed repairs. Friday afternoon at 3 isn’t when most people go to the gardens and a cold, rainy day is probably not the best time for planting or digging in the dirt but the last time we were working in the garden, several of the wheelbarrows needed some minor repairs. With nuts and bolts, drills and an air pump to inflate the tires, I went off to the garden thinking I could make a few repairs before people needed the tools over the weekend.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived was a new mound of mulch and a small mound of stones in the parking area. Daffodils were blooming along the paths and in some of the raised beds. The trees that had only begun to bud in March were in full bloom and had small leaves in the cheerful green of a long spring.
The shed was full of tools stacked right up to the threshold and there were more wheelbarrows in good repair than had been there before. I checked the legs and the handles and noticed several new bolts and some pieces of wood that had been added to stabilize the parts that had been loose earlier in the spring. It was immediately evident that the community garden takes care of itself and it finds the tools it needs to keep going. It had been a couple of weeks since Mother Dawn had said that the tools needed some repair and someone else heard and responded more quickly than I could. Seeing the shed so full of tools and specifically seeing new bolts next to old rusted bolts and hand crafted repairs showed that there is great skill in this community and that the community uses its skills to enhance everyone’s opportunities.
I looked at the list of tasks that is always taped on the inside of the door and noticed that most of the tasks right now involve weeding and spreading mulch. Several tasks are about rearranging and moving some heavy things. I tried to find a task that I could do alone since I hadn’t seen anyone else in the gardens so far that day.
I decided to mulch the area around the picnic table that is next to the grape arbor. I moved 8 loads of mulch as the day turned cold again and began to snow and rain. Walking back and forth from the arbor to the mulch pile gave me a good look around the garden. I said “hi” to people waiting for the bus. A few people walked by and watched me work and one man walked by throwing a ball for his dog to fetch. I worked alone and felt the centrality of this location in this community. I was in the middle of everything and everywhere I looked, even on this cold day, I could see the neighborhood filled with people. I wanted to stay but just as I spread the 8th load of mulch, it began to snow hard so I put the tools away for the day.
It was good to be in the community garden alone, to see the evidence of the community that is always active and changing. Observing what had been done since I was last there probably revealed more about how many people come together to work in this space than I could have gleaned had the garden been full of people that day. The task I did choose to do was one of the only ones that could be done alone in the garden. I was grateful that there was a solo task available but I also realized how rich the garden is for cultivating. It is not just cultivating what is grown but the opportunity to help another person shoulder a difficult task is grown in that space too. I grew in perspective that day. The passing of time and the progress of change revealed the impacts of a community that while not standing and working with me in the garden that day, was most certainly present and active in that space.