I was leaving when I saw them. The cinderblocks. It was Bob again, I knew. I had carried a dozen or so of them up a little hill to create my first community garden bed way back in 2009 when where he lived (and I still do) became the newest city in the United States of America, and we (with others) made something out of nothing. That is the final story in my book, Food for My Daughters. Bob was an unexpected friend of mine. One of the best of my life. He died suddenly three years ago. He still feels present, mostly in gardens.
I had dismantled my cinderblocks from way back then a few years later, passing on the space to someone else. I tended my friend Rod’s bed for awhile, but then I had left there as I had gotten busy elsewhere. We all had. That garden was off and running with new people, new ideas. That’s good (right?), although it’s locked now (something we felt strongly about never doing). I can’t even enter if I wanted to.
And now, here I am, in this community garden for refugees in a city 13 miles away in the most diverse square mile in the USA, where I started planting last September (unexpectedly). Rebecca had helped.
Bob and I had created a different garden in this city (and many other places) years ago, and had helped other people in other ways (and likewise been helped by them). Bob had never been to this particular garden, and yet, there he was. In the cinderblocks.
And so I picked one up, and then another. Five, in total, to lay the foundation for the bamboo bean teepee yet to come. I had just created a narrow path, because I’ve learned from the refugees in this garden that only a narrow path forward is needed.
I had just put more space into cultivation, as the wood chips and leaf mulch over the winter has created more fertility. I had found a bench and turned this little 9′ x 9′ Sharing Garden into perhaps a little public park. And I had planted seeds. Always more seeds. I’ll be passing this space on to a family new to the country soon, and I want to leave it in the best condition that I can.
As I walked away, satisfied with my work for the day, I said barely audibly yet I heard it, and I knew he did, too:
Good he would have texted back.
“Good,” he would have said.
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