Words of Reflection from a Summer Volunteer

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Morse School - CitySprouts - School Garden - Summer of 2016 Nothing quite like the squeal of excitement when riding your bike through the overspray of a water sprinkler on a hot summer’s day! This and many special moments like it were experienced by my husband and I this summer as volunteer ?waterers and ABC garden weeders? for the Morse School, CitySprouts garden in Cambridge. With the intense high heat (as you may remember) with many days reaching 95 degrees, we paid regular visits to the garden to support the hard work established in the spring and summer by the school community. Daily liquid hydration was provided for a chance to have the garden survive and flourish so that the summer program and September school assembly could enjoy the harvests. We enjoyed the routine visits with the plants, small animals and passers-by. It became a shared discovery each time to find something new, some things passed and many re-vitalized.

When Shay and Jane (garden coordinator and executive director) encouraged me to find flowers that may complete the ABC garden, I had no idea how the challenge would be met. Where does one start with the letter ?K? or ?T?? .... and where will we ever find ?X? and ?W?? Friends of Helen, who hosts a local ?gardening listserve? in the area helped immediately with a plea to fill the gaps. The response came with a new friend, gardening expert ?Henry?. What a joyful interlude to meet and plant and water together ~ all in a short 30 minutes ~ as a mild rain passed and relaxed us into knowing that these transplants would have a significant chance at surviving. Gardening friends are some of the best friends I know!

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Seeing the children pass by on their evening strolls with mom or dad, brother or sister, grandparent or friend, I was able to receive so many precious interactions. The sudden arrival of tricycle wheels, stopping abruptly, with a little boy unexpectedly announcing, ?your doing a nice job?. How many days do we hear this authentic feedback!? Then there was the garden rabbit waiting under the big cucumber leaf, knowing the cool spray of water will arrive soon. Not frightened. Not anxious. Just relieved.

And then of course there is the beauty of flowering plants becoming a tomato or eggplant or ?striped? cucumber, wow! One day a flower, with hovering honey bees getting their fill, and the next day the formation of produce, tiny and barely recognizable - eager to grow. Each watering seemed to increase their size by the day!

One day as I watered I was reminded of one of my favorite parenting skills long forgotten and received when my children were quite young. What to do with a ?Crabby baby??... Let them play in water.? The cool calming transformative powers slowly subsides the over-heated, and transforms the situation into splashes and giggles ~ a collective relief for all. This was a great resource to me as a new mom, and a memorable time spent with my newborns. Ahh how thoughts can digress, as that was more than 25 years ago, and yet still a joy to remember!

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I am astonished at the clear lessons of the necessity of water. The reclaiming powers of its nourishment, sometimes brief and sometimes slow. Without water things dry and die. Too much and we flood and are overwhelmed. Water is one of the essential elements in sustaining life ~ along with air and sun. Fundamental and necessary to planet earth.

With one final reflection, I learned a lot from Shay?s precious guidance to ?leave the main beds alone? What she meant by this was at first difficult for me to understand. Then it became clear, to see the process of teaching, of sowing seeds and providing multiple levels of experience to watch nature take it?s course. The weeder in me had to withhold and respectfully watch as dying and seed development took its course. And signs of course always help :)

Thank you Jane, Shay, Andrea, Robyn and all the unseen hands and hearts that help this CitySprouts program flourish at the Morse School, Cambridge. The opportunity was a gift and provided my husband and I with lasting and good memories.

Good Night Garden, Good Night summer.... Thank you again for all the challenges and joys of time spent together.

Amy and Critt Jarvis

***Note: If you would like to volunteer this spring or summer email Andrea at alocke@citysprouts.org

Andrea Locke