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After Mr. Stripey Goes In, the Hammock Calls

Posted Apr 15 2012 7:07am
The "spring is heeeeeere" bird is chirping all day now, not just in the morning, and I hear it outside the open screen door as the late-day sun streams in.  Spring is heeeeere.  Spring is heeeeere ( see page 2 in my book, Food for My Daughters ). 

"Yes, yes, I know!" I say out loud, seeing the lady-bug-laden hairy vetch draping everywhere outside, the sage in full bloom, and my beloved lamb's quarters (a sign of summer) already popping up here, there, and everywhere.

I wait for boiling water to cool in the Mama Bread I'm making before adding the yeast (at the end of step 7, for anyone making it at home), and I glance at brochures I picked up at the Global Humanitarian Summit at Emory University that afternoon--so many good things happening at the hands of so many people who simply saw a need and filled it (medical supplies to Haiti, leftover paint to people in huts in developing countries, prosthetic devices to those in need, the Peace Corps--can I apply for that someday still?).  The basil planters for the bottle garden fundraising project line almost half the kitchen table and I look sideways at them, feeling hopeful that they will help fund the food pantry garden when they are given out as gifts with donations soon. 
I mix.  I knead.  I think.  I peer outside and see my nice neat rows from February succumbing to nature, my nature, starting to twist and turn and lose their form as I plant outside the lines, potato plants everywhere, and as I let mint and lemon balm wander, crushing gently beneath my feet, emitting their essence as I wander as well.  The garden resembles the gardener , and mine, once again, resembles me, even down to the randomly-arranged trellises I create.
I see the pile of college brochures on a chair and think of how my older daughter (the one who had the chartreuse driving shoes ) notices the ones that feature farms and real food and sustainability, how she points it out to me.  She told me recently that she used to feel that sustainability was her mother's thing, but that now she realizes it's as big a part of her as well.  I remember all the signs of sustainability I saw walking across Emory's campus earlier that day, and although my daughter is not looking at schools in the southeastern United States, I know she would have noticed all these things as well. 

I see a cut rose stem from my rose bush in a bottle I use as a vase, and I recall my favorite moment from the food pantry this week, the moment about which I've yet to tell anyone:
* I had harvested 15 pounds from my home garden (where, by the way, this week was when the amount of food harvested from my home garden in 2012 exceeds my annual garden budget, so everything from this week on is "profit") and piled it all in a big, red bucket on the front seat of my car.  

* At the last minute, I cut an armful of roses from my bush, which I planted just last year.

* I pulled up to the food pantry garden and took it out, brought it over and started to share.  

* A man walked up to me as I was handing out bags of lettuces and kale and collards, and I saw he was eyeing the roses.  

* I handed him a long, abundant stem of them and he smiled and thanked me.  

* I watched him walk away and hand the roses to a woman, most likely his wife.  

* I saw her face light up, and I wondered how long, if ever, it had been since he could give a rose to his beloved.   
So simple, that action.  Such a thing we take for granted.  We all just looked at each other.  Roses.  You don't think of bringing roses to the food pantry, do you?  Well, I will never look at a rose the same way again.  As Alice Waters wrote in one of my favorite books , "Beauty is not a luxury."
Gardens are not a luxury, either.  I think of all the ways people who don't really need them can complicate them, and I realize that when I work with those in need (of not just food but knowledge and community), it's all very simple. The middle school near me has lost another year of having a school garden, although Coach Burdette's class is coming to the back field by the community garden every week and lives are changing (including mine) right before my eyes. I spend my limited volunteer time now with them, with the food pantry garden, and with the Fugees garden, which has yielded 100 heads of lettuces in just five weeks, enough for every student in the school to take some home and have some for lunch.
Heat is just about here full-time now, and I have indeed been seduced by Mr. Stripey (yep, my book again: page 37).  Winter in this climate is the time for my flurry of new activity, not summer, and once Mr. Stripey goes in, I start slowing down, just focusing on the projects already happening where need is evident and help makes a difference.
With a few of my articles just published ( the one about the jail gardens , and then two in the May/June issue of Urban Farm magazine on pages 5 and 10), I catch my breath for the first time in months, and I answer the call of the hammock.

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