This Little Girl

photos taken by/shared with permission of this girl’s mom

This little girl is my neighbor. This photo was taken a year ago when the first harvests from my revitalized Sharing Garden were ready. I had originally cleared out the edible landscape surrounding my home because I was scheduled to leave for Peace Corps Uganda for two years June 4, 2020 and I didn’t want it to swallow my husband whole while I was gone. I frantically replanted when the pandemic hit. So much good, amidst the challenges and aside from my father-in-law’s death from COVID, has happened since.

This little girl helped.

She helped me plant lettuces not long ago, which we’ve been enjoying daily a bowlful of leaves at a time (see Cut-and-Come-Again for that harvesting method), and which are now ready to be harvested completely by my neighbors and then for the food pantry this upcoming Wednesday. Heat is coming, which will make them bitter. And it’s time to make room for what’s next.

This little girl has a little sister now. This little girl rides a balance bike now. This little girl left me strawberries recently when she visited a farm to pick them.

“Mr. Radish” (as she called him) is gone now, but there’s something new, and this little girl seems to be okay with that.

This little girl’s parents are amazing, and her mom reminds me of me just a little bit — juggling the two daughters; trying to immerse them in nature and engage them in the simple joys of life; staying fully present even though the world spins wildly all around us.

This little girl, whose name is like my older daughter’s and looks are like my younger daughter’s at that age, has an energy all her own. It’s sweet, not sad, to see someone new on this land, in this neighborhood. It will be sweet, not sad, when I pass this Sharing Garden on to the next young mom, to the next young children. To what’s next. We’re all just stewards.

My older daughter just left to return to Los Angeles after six weeks here. She ate from our garden every single day. We rode bikes together. My younger daughter is in Boston. She’ll be here this summer for just a short while. She will enjoy our bounty as well. Our garden, our neighborhood, and our family’s habits and history are part of them, and I know how indelibly they carry it all forward with them wherever they go.

See Food for My Daughters for stories, tips, chapter-ending recipes, and other food-for-thought

This all serves as a reminder to me, to you. Children don’t wait. They grow up. Now. Now is the time for planting. For riding bikes. For picking blackberries, which are just about ready again — and which, I know from last year, this little girl loves.

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