I wore tights on my run today, because the morning dawned pretty briskly. But the sun was rising, making promises it would heat the air come afternoon…which it did. So I decided, after reading the announcement in our church newspaper, to call my mom and see if she wanted to help plant a community garden.
My mother is an avid gardener whose thumb is as green as — oh, whatever that winter grass is that looks like the color of a crayon. Were I to tell you the street on which she lives and say, “It’s the apartment with the flowers,” you’d find it more easily than if I had given you the street number.
I knew Mom would be working in the yard today, so I wasn’t surprised she didn’t answer the phone. The volunteer project at church started at 1 p.m. I finally reached her about 12:20.
At first, she hesitated, saying she’d worked all morning in her yard and didn’t know if she was in the mood to go plant some more. I said that was fine; whatever she wanted to do. Besides, I said, I’m almost positive this will be an ongoing project.
“Oh, let’s go,” she said.
We got to the garden site around 1:30, signed in, and were handed brand-new trowels, gloves and onion plants. The soil was really nice and sandy, so we could make inch-deep lines into which we put the onions and later, when we ran out of those, carrot seeds.
Mom and I had it easy, quite honestly. At the other end of the raised bed where we worked, other volunteers were shoveling mounds of dirt into wheelbarrows and then carting the loads to other areas. But Mom and I we could sit, or stand if we so choose, with hardly having to move any body part but our arms and wrists.
Eventually, the area where we worked will be beautiful, with raised beds for vegetables and shrubs lining the property. Right now, there’s a chain-link fence, weeds everywhere, a few portable storage units and pieces of glass here and there.
But Mom could see past all the ugly, past the crummy buildings across the street and the questionable people wandering along the sidewalks. Instead, she marveled at how this will look when it’s finished, and how she looks forward to watching the area come together.
We stayed for maybe an hour. I drove her home, to the apartment with pansies in containers and sunflowers growing in pots on her upstairs windowsill. As she walked to her front door, she stopped to admire, as she always does, the skinny trunks and seemingly dead branches — seeing not the dormancy, but the tiny, tiny buds that signify life.
So for life; for sunshine; for the promise of flowers and onions where right now there’s not much more than dirt…and of course, for her sweet mother’s optimism, The Grateful Runner says thank you.