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Community Gardens Plot 209

A prose-poem for you on Earth Day…

The morning smells delicious,
of dirt and last night’s rain –
I dream of abundance,
draw a map 
on the back of an envelope:
tomatoes, basil, garlic here,
potatoes, peppers, peas there,
Oh, the food we can grow!

Each spring, I have high hopes
for gardening.
I forget my tendency
to kill plants –
to let them go unprotected 
from deer, rabbits,
and the dry, relentless heat.

I begin with gusto anyway, 
seduced by the way plants are called “starts”
and the idea of beginning new.
This year especially, since we’re off the waitlist,
and promised land in our public garden.
Never mind that Plot 209 is all weeds and rocks.

In the community gardens,
the currency is sharing –
The tool library, the swapping shed, 
the compost commons – 
Can I borrow your tiller?
Here, try my favorite shovel.

I’m amazed by how many people
come to greet us, their new garden neighbors,
offer wheelbarrows and watering cans –
Lindsay gifts us onion bulbs for luck.
Tony and Bobbie, Howard and Scott, Sarah and Ryan
come carrying compost in buckets,
come offering wisdom too: 
Rabbits don’t like blood meal
or marigolds,
Weed cloth is cheap at Costco,
I’ll make you ceramic row markers, 
Did you hear they turn on the water tomorrow?

Everything here 
relies on friendly exchange.
Conversation centers on common ground,
or at least, the ground.
On my right, my 83 year old neighbor identifies perennials.

On my left, a 5 year old boy sings to the plants,
choosing what to save and what to toss –
“I weed you, I keep you, I weed you, I keep you.”

Someone has made a path
out of flat stones, discarded by someone else.
I step from stone to stone,
and consider the power of sharing and seeds
to make the world feel whole again.

*Special thanks to Teresa Chapman who put us on the waitlist in the first place, the Carbon Crew Project (and its biggest cheerleaders, Tom Virden & Lois Shannon) who motivated us to really do the garden thing this year, and Kurt, who does all the heavy lifting!