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Friday, July 11, 2014

Let there be Dirt!

I did a double-take. Which—when you’re on a bike—is not the best idea. But I couldn’t help it. I was passing mountains where there had been none before.

I’d been on my way to the community garden. I took the back route, which passes by the entrance to the church. (The community garden is on church land, although it’s open to everybody.) There were three giant mountains outside the church. Mountains of dirt. They were four or five feet tall, and eight or ten feet wide. The biggest was right in front of the doors to the church, which I found odd.
It wasn’t unexpected to find dirt near the garden, because we have been expanding the garden over the last few months. But the location of the dirt startled me. When we first created the garden two summers ago, dirt was delivered inside the fenced garden, and it was dumped onto a dirt lot. I knew more dirt was coming but having it deposited on a concrete walkway outside the garden, and a hundred feet away, surprised me. But whatever. We gardeners roll with the unexpected. Water leak? We roll with that. We turn off timers. Hot spell? We roll. We water more. Bee infestation? We roll with that too. We call someone who can take thousands of bees to another location where their hard work won’t put anyone in danger. Mountains of dirt outside the garden? Guess we’ll roll with that, too.

Tomorrow we’re bringing wheel barrows and shovels and we will move that dirt. We’re a team of gardeners. Like the tomatoes we grow, you rarely see just one of us. We gather in groups. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. I never go to the garden without marveling at how much is growing: how much variety there is, how much care has gone into creating this garden of wonders. And I often laugh over how amusing the location is. We’re wedged among a church, a busy boulevard and an auto parts store, and close to the fire station. The fact that this utopia shares a wall with a place selling windshield wipers amuses me. The juxtaposition is part of the fun of it. I love that our garden comes as a surprise, as if dropped from above into an unexpected spot. The contrast is delightful. The boulevard only a few feet away is full of cars and buses, jostling for position. There’s the rumble of motorcycles and the pounding bass from someone’s sound system. I smell fast food grease from across the street. The fire station’s siren screams across the parking lot of the auto parts store. People are doing oil changes next door. There’s the beep beep at the intersection for visually-impaired walkers. Car horns.

And then, inside the gates of our garden: peace and beauty. Lillies growing next to succulents. Bees are buzzing while butterflies float through the air. The smell of tomato leaves. The chirp of birds. Tall corn stalks waving in the breeze. Bright orange flowers spilling over the sides of the garden beds. A piece of paradise, even with the sirens and the commotion just a few feet away. Or maybe it’s a piece of paradise because of the action outside. It’s a calm refuge from the hustle-bustle of life.

As for the dirt, we’ll move it into the beds, which we’ve painted, built and moved into place. Some of our group (not me) dug trenches for the irrigation system and the beds are ready for dirt, and ready to make magic once seeds and seedlings are tucked into it. We’ll bring color and life to those beds, an ongoing gift for the community to enjoy. Me, I’m ready for the show to begin. It’s going to be amazing…

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