Smith has this little stuffed fox, 'super foxy' or just 'foxy' for short. He carries him everywhere and also sometimes accidentally leaves him behind to spend the night abandoned in a playground or grocery store... still we somehow always track him down (so far, knock on wood!). I think about how many toys and stuffed creatures I have carefully chosen for the kids over the years, some hand made with loving care and hefty price tags, and yet it's this synthetic Ikea fox, thoughtlessly added to the cart in an effort to buy me some extra shopping time, that has won his heart. I never would I have guessed that we would be retracing our steps and making late night phone calls to track down that $2 mass produced toy, but Smith loves him, and so now we all do too. It's funny the things that wind up being critical to finding personal joy.
Our community garden is a bit like that fox for me. Six years ago, when we first scored our plot, it was just a way to bide my time and get my fingers dirty until I could move back to the country. I never imagined that 400 square feet of sun soaked earth would play such a big role in our family's warm weather rituals. James was initially ambivalent about our plot, and these days he is often the one dragging us all there, weeding and watering at the end of long work days. The kids have grown up with our garden as a major feature of their lives, and despite our move last summer, this patch of land, connected to a community and not a set of house keys, has remained a constant for them both.
When we were looking to buy a house, several friends made comments assuming we'd give up our garden, because we would want to start one in our own yard, or it would be too far away. But we actually made proximity to the garden a key factor in our buying process, and we are definitely keeping our plot!
True, it does require more effort to pack up the kids and drive just to do a little gardening. I am sure that if I could swing open my back door and poke around, everything would be better maintained. But it is so worth the added work. It's wonderful to walk around and chat with other gardeners, sharing tips and seeds. I love that we were able to stay close to the city, and all of the culture and excitement it has to offer, choosing a small and shady lot without sacrificing sun loving veggies in the process. Best of all, our garden happens to be nestled in a nature preserve, which means our non-country-kids get to kick off their shoes, run through fields chasing butterflies, toss stones into streams, and generally experience much of the freedom my country-kid childhood afforded me.
I love you community garden, you have given our family so much more than we can possibly return. Never outgrow us, and we promise that we'll never outgrow you.