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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Pleasant Surprise on a Pleasant Day...

Today started out as a typical Wednesday morning, we arrived bright and early at Lakewood and immediately took on the tasks left to us. Some of us started with the digging of a trench around the perimeter for sunflower and marigolds. I untangled the mess of hoses so that I could water thoroughly, seeing as there was no afternoon shift. Our plants have quite insatiable thirsts, and the Florida sun is relentless even with the Autumn Equinox. It was just the four of us working and sweating when we looked up and beheld the most wonderful sight - children at the picnic tables!!! I am pretty certain that all of us were under the impression that there were no classes this week so the sight of 5 of them was unexpected. We dropped what we were doing (carefully of course) and all but ran to meet them. It turned out to be Ms. Noorbakhsh and her 1st and 2nd graders. Some of them had experienced the garden last semester but some were new to it, so we introduced ourselves and the garden. The 5 boys were anxious to get out there but we insisted on playing the vegetable game first. Funnily enough, all of them could come up with favorite fruits but most had to think about what vegetables they liked to eat.

Once we had gone over the garden rules and the necessities of growing happy plants (seeds, water, sun, soil, and love) it was nearly impossible to keep them out of the garden. We brought them through bed by bed and looked at what we had planted and what was growing. They all touched the fuzzy okra, peeked at the seedlings, and examined the huge watermelons and sweet potatoes with visible awe. One little 1st grader asked eagerly, when can we plant seeds? Well, we responded, we don't have anything to plant right now, but you can help us water and dig our trench! They were most definitely up for the challenge. And what amazing helpers they were! All of our plants got substantial drinks, as the boys kept coming back for more water for their watering cans. Our trench got deeper as they dug for gold but found shells and worms. That's just as good as gold, they agreed. With great regret we asked them to finish up what they were doing, pick up their tools, and head back to the tables. They summed up all they had learned about plants, jumping out of their chairs, competing to answer our questions. We exchanged thanks for the blissful half hour we spent together and promised we'd see each other soon. With that, they followed their teacher back inside, chatting excitedly about their garden adventure.
There was nothing else to do but go back to our work, and work we did, dripping sweat and covered in dirt but with 3/4 of the trench finished! We extracted a massive pile of rocks and I accidentally broke a shovel while trying to dig one up (sorry guys!). In the excitement of it all, I didn't get any pictures of the children, but I got one of what they left as a memento of their delightful presence - tiny gloves made for the delicate hands of little gardeners, and an adorable elephant-shaped watering can. Welcome back, kids! The garden is glad to be in your hands once again.

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