Monday, April 27, 2009

Being Neighborly

Three things happened this weekend that reminded me of an important element of a kid-friendly organic life.

My neighbor Nan brought me over 200 hostas. Nan lives at the bend in the creek that snakes along next to our road. She is blessed with lots of morning sun and soil made incredibly fertile from the many natural springs that feed our creek. Hostas go a little nuts at her house and each spring she (or rather her husband) have to clear out hundreds or be overrun. She has the same problem with Daylilys so I’m waiting for the next batch of boxes to appear at the end of my driveway.

My daughter wanted her very own flower garden. I’m thrilled to cultivate her interest in gardening, but I’m not so thrilled to spend lots of money on the plants of her dreams. Lucky for her my neighbor Mary who has a garden that looks like it stepped off the pages of a magazine, gave us some wonderful seeds she had saved from the ‘spider flower’ plants that Addie loves. Between those seeds, the marigold and zinnia seeds we saved from last year, and the seed packets that were given out free at the fall fest garden demo, we had seeds to spare and it didn’t cost us a thing. We spent a beautiful morning planting the seeds and Addie made markers so we would know what was what. We talked about all the people we could give our seeds to after we harvest them this year. We even envisioned starting our own seed swapping club.

Yesterday it was nearly 90 here (which broke a local record, just in case you’re interested) but it was the only chance we had to get our bounty of hostas in the ground. I had envisioned the hostas adorning the two banks that flank our driveway and trickle with water from several springs. When my husband and I pulled the truck laden with hostas, shovels, and our great intentions up beside the banks, we quickly lost steam. The bank was much bigger when the job was a reality and the weeds and grass that needed to be removed to make room for the hostas were very committed to staying where they were. We wrestled with the elements for about 15 minutes before our neighbor Chris happened along in his truck. He laughed when he saw the mountain of hostas and I explained my plans. He shook his head knowingly at my husband and then said he’d be right back with his front end loader. It took Chris only a few minutes to scrap away the offending weeds and expose our muddy bank. I spent the next few hours planting the hostas and reflecting on what great neighbors we have.

Being a good neighbor and having good neighbors sure makes a kid-friendly organic life much easier. We don’t live in a traditional neighborhood, so when I say neighbors I’m talking about people who live a mile down the road. It can take awhile to cultivate a neighborhood in these parts. To that end, we hosted a “neighborhood” potluck the first year we lived here. I made up a flyer and my kids and I took them to all the houses in about a one mile radius. We were able to meet lots of neighbors. It’s very easy to get insulated in your own little life especially if you’re busy with work and kids, but building a community should be a priority. There is great security in knowing there are people nearby who will help you in a crisis or even just to plant your hostas (or give you the hostas in the first place). We all need each other and if we take the time to know each other there is much that connects us besides geography.

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