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Something New, Something Beautiful, Somewhere Else

Posted Aug 12 2008 4:20pm

The other day, we had the first Open Garden since April, when the heat of the the late-afternoon drove us to stop for the summer. This one was an emergency. It needed to happen (and we did it in the morning before the blazing sun) because Kelly of the Persimmons and her family are moving to Minnesota, and I knew the door was closing on her children's chances to dig in Georgia soil one last time.

The trucks arrive today. Kelly's husband has been working across the country almost a solid year already, flying home every few weeks and longing, desperately, to be reunited permanently with his family (you may remember that I wrote about them last September). When I saw Kelly's teenage son literally jump into his father's arms Friday night when he arrived from the airport for the final time, my heart nearly cracked open with joy.

And so it was that this boy and I made pesto and tossed compost, and his sister made gorgeous homemade paper, and other children planted seeds and fed worms and harvested peppers and tomatoes and okra and tasted the figs and pears I had picked around town and scrambled fresh eggs that Tracy of the Chickens brought over wrapped in a cloth diaper, tucked into a bag and held gingerly while bike riding.

This boy told me he was concerned that Minnesota would be so cold for much of the year that he wouldn't be able to have a good garden. I handed him Elliot Coleman's Four-Season Harvest book and his face lit up. His sister picked out Grace from the Garden from my book collection, a beautiful little book of essays about how gardens change lives.

I found out another family is going through their own changes, which may eventually involve moving. The oldest of three daughters walked by when I was checking the mailbox garden the other morning and told me that when her youngest sister found out that school was starting again, she said, "That means Open Garden must be starting again soon, too!" This is the same girl who chose "Gardener" as her What I Want to Be When I Grow Up project for the end of the last school year.

And yet another neighbor girl, whom just found out that she is moving, too, painted a canvas I had set up in the middle of the clover-studded lawn. I hadn't realized that all of the paint containers were empty except for maybe blue, white and black. If I had noticed this before the kids had come, I probably would have run out to the store and bought more paint, so they could have what they needed. But I hadn't, so I told her to make do with what she had.

She was painting for ages, and when I finally went over to glance, I gasped. She had used yellow flower petals and green mint as accent colors (the photo above is just a little piece of the painting). And she was so proud of her resourcefulness.

And I realized that here, in the garden, they have everything they need, or they will create it. And when they move, they will carry it with them, this garden. And they will create something new, something beautiful, somewhere else.
Nurturing sustainability close to home and around the world. (And other food for thought!)

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