Today was Work Party Day at our community garden. The cool crisp air was welcomed after the rain and wind we have been experiencing over the last few days. Cold is easier for me to deal with than wet when digging weeds, pruning trees and having lunch outdoors are concerned.
Our community garden work party days are always a pleasure. Being outdoors in a stunning natural setting that shows so much promise is always easy to take. Getting down and getting dirty in the mud to pull weeds brings a sense of focus to my otherwise busy mind. Watching a clear path emerge from out of the weeds is a wonder to observe. Time flies by.
Being in the presence of many people all working hard to keep the communal elements of the garden beautiful and functioning well leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Young and old, knowledgeable and curious to learn, new members of the community and seasoned gardeners alike are there to contribute to the common good.
With the acquisition of another plot we were assigned an additional task for the common area: pruning the mulberry trees. Now that may not seem like a big deal for some of you but I saw this as a lesson in courage. You see I am not even sure what a mulberry tree looks like and then there is the issue of not knowing anything about pruning anything. I usually do not do well with house plants so agreeing to take on this responsibility was a definite act of bravery. My goal for my involvement in the garden this year is to learn some new things so pruning the mulberry trees seems to fit the bill. It is unquestionably a big step up from pulling weeds in the paths.
I ventured to the garden this morning not feeling any sense of panic about my yet to be tackled task and the little voice in the back of my head wondered why I was not worried. Perhaps my intuition knew better than that pesky little voice because when I arrived there was a group of gardeners gathered around a young woman brandishing secateurs, loppers and pruning saws. (I did learn something as I now know that those small handled gardening shears (that we always seem to lose) are technically called secateurs and loppers are the long handled shears.
This was my lucky day. Here was an expert giving a workshop on none other than pruning trees. She was incredibly knowledgeable about trees and their ability to grow and heal themselves when required. All the information she imparted was done with the upmost respect for trees and their natural ability to take things as they come. If a tree was pruned improperly it would respond in a way to lessen the damage and to survive. If the tree was becoming diseased it was able to compartmentalize the area and not take away from the healthy portions of the tree. We were shown where one would ideally prune a tree, how to do it properly and we each had a chance to try it ourselves.
I was in awe of this young woman who knew so much about trees and how to prune them in a supportive way. I was also so very much in awe of the trees that we examined and pruned. Their ability to adapt, to survive non-ideal conditions, remain healthy and to bear fruit was amazing.
I have always loved trees and know instinctively that they are wise and remarkable but somehow the information I heard today increased my respect. I will take on my engagement with the mulberry trees with that respect and my love of trees at the core of the task.
PS I now can recognize a mulberry tree and I also know that I will need a really good ladder.
Irene McDermott © 2012