The warmth of the winter sun on my face was like a little bit of heaven. Its arrival was so unexpected thus intensifying the pleasure. I had woken up to noisy slashing rain not surprising as it is winter and thus the rainy season. Being a Sunday it might have been nice to stay curled in the covers cozy warm from a night’s sleep but it was the last Sunday of the month and that meant one thing—–it was a “work party” day at our community garden. I wondered whether the event would go ahead in the rain and then remembered I was in Vancouver and answered myself with a resounding yes of course. Oh well rain clothes and determination would do it.
Now the use of the word “party” in this case is a bit of a misnomer —-this party is a potluck lunch and a business meeting of all the gardeners after four hours of working in the common areas of the five acre garden. In the rain and all.
The now beautiful lush and bountiful land used to be a garbage dump twenty years ago before some clever person approached the city to see if it would be possible to convert it to a community garden. They thought him daft but said go ahead, give it a try and now over 300 people benefit from his vision.
Every member of the community garden has an individual plot of about a couple hundred square feet, although none of them are completely square as they follow the contours of the land and twist around trees and bushes. Each garden plot is as unique as the individuals who tend them. Individual plot people have the option of choosing how they will use the plot within the understanding that they will keep it tended, get rid of noxious weeds, keep the paths around their plot clear and basically do their best to contribute to the whole exquisite aesthetic of the community garden.
The shared contribution to the garden is applied to the common areas of which there are many, like the perimeter paths, the kiwi vines, the hazelnut trees, the herb garden, the bamboo field, the fruit trees and berries and so on. The monthly work party is designed to bring all the gardeners together and take their focus away from their individual plots to the communal and work together to ensure it also thrives. No matter the weather or the task one cannot help but absorb the energy that exudes from being around people working hard for the common good.
Yesterday in the rain in my rain boots, gardening jeans, U of A hoodie and my trusty raincoat and grimy old gloves I was ready for my task of pulling weeds from the perimeter paths. I will be learning how to prune fruit trees next season but at this time of year my focus was on raking up the fallen leaves, exposing the weeds and pulling them out of the spongy wet paths. I have to say that I find the thought of this task not so pleasant and yet carrying it out always seems to be a nice experience. The repetition and satisfaction of seeing the tangle of roots coming up with the little exposed weeds and seeing a path clear of weeds is calming. Being outside and breathing the fresh moist garden green air, even in the rain, makes me feel so alive. I was so immersed in the task that it took me a while to realize that the rain had actually stopped. Looking up I became aware of blue sky, a hopeful sign.
Covered in dirt from head to toe at the end of it all never deters me from heading over to the group gathered under the trees to feast on food contributed by everyone in attendance. Others also covered in dirt, wet from the rain or kneeling amongst the wet plants enjoyed the tasty treats of salad, warm rice pilaf, sushi and assorted other things. My Dad’s pickles were a big hit!
There was a palatable sense of satisfaction in the gathering of people having united our efforts in maintaining the garden we all love and share. A few minutes after we had placed our wet bodies on very wet wooden benches and chairs the sun came out full and strong bringing smiling faces up to the heavens giving thanks for yet another good “work party” and a special appreciation to the warmth of the so welcome sun.
I heard a song on Snow Hill Island, Antarctica radio station yesterday that said it all. Here is a line from the song:
“It’s not how big your share is,
It’s how much you can share”