Thursday, August 9, 2007

the real meaning of community

as i crunched down the gravel path to the community garden plot tonight, water was flying in no discernible pattern around garden, but no heads were sticking above the foliage. geeez, i thought. i hope those kids are with someone. someone crouching down and gardening, maybe. no such luck. my plot's in the very back corner, and as i made my way through overgrown zucchinis, a small voice said, "hi." "hi." "we're watering the garden." "looks like you're watering your friends." "yeah." who am i to begrudge some kids some hose time when the heat index is close to 100 degrees? that's cool. so i start to pick some tomatoes and zucchini, pull up my sad, milky lettuce, weed a little. nothing too involved. i'm not really dressed for the garden. at one point, i get a little spray from the kids' ringleader, and she quickly apologizes. after a few minutes, my bossy instincts take over. "are you watering everyone's garden?" "yeah." "you know, most people want to water their own. sometimes, you can water too much. if you give a tomato too much water, it can split open." "oh." thoughtful pause. "do you want to use the hose?" "i will in a minute." the kids become more and more curious in my garden activities. "is there poison ivy in there?" "yeah, probably a little." "i don't touch that stuff!" etc. they help me bring the hose over so i can water my plot, which brings a younger boy and over to stick their fingers and heads in the stream and giggle and scream. the girl asks me to spray some water in her plastic bag. "what's in there?" "flowers for our wedding. we're getting married." "oh, congratulations." i ask if they think the tomatoes need more water, and when the girl cautions me against giving them too much, my heart swells a little. did i impart wisdom unto this child? forsooth. they both ask to pick a cherry tomato. the girl picks a somewhat ripe one and bites into it, interested. the boy picks a yellow one, bites into it, tears it apart, and throws it into the next bed. "sour." then he grabs another yellow one, i caution him that this one will be just as sour, but that doesn't slow this kid down. soon i feel a fat, wet sploCH, and it's not the kids sticking their hands in front of the stream. it's half the seeds from an under ripe cherry tomato, sprayed across my top. my skirt isn't unscathed. the boy gives me a sheepish grin and goes for another. "nope, i said one." after a moment, "okay." whew. i didn't want to have a battle on my hands there. the kids get a lesson in not walking in people's gardens (i'm full of lessons), and i'm on my way home for laundry damage control. when i walk in the bathroom to wash the sweat off my face, there's a big wet gooey tomato seed stuck smack in the middle of my cheek. kids. you like my new header? maybe i'll change the vegetables with the seasons.

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