Today I woke late, so I started my walk late–and just as I was coming out onto our street, I said hello to a woman who was walking with her big black dog. Turns out, she grew up in our house–her family built it. Her dad, who passed away earlier this year, had a huge garden in the back yard. He used a rototiller, and brought in manure and loam, and involved all the neighbor children in planting vegetables. He’d give them a stick and point to its length and say plant the seeds this far apart.
He planted a peach tree–which did very well, (sadly no longer here) and lots of raspberries and blackberries–which are still coming up behind the garage on the land just next to ours which had belonged to them. (It still belongs to her mother who lives in a house we can see from our yard–which we already knew.) Her dad would do the planting and her mother liked to weed.
The big spruce tree next door would be lit up like a Christmas tree every year, to the delight of all the kids. The man who lived there was in the fire department, so when the tree got tall, he would put on the lights with a fire truck ladder. (Sadly, that spruce, along with the others in our yard are no longer doing very well.) At that time, all the families in the neighborhood knew each other, and the kids played together all the time. She also spoke about the delight of wandering into the big woods behind the house.
She was thrilled about our solar panels and our rain barrels, and hoped she might do that where she now lives on an island. She is staying with her mother a few nights a week while she takes a class in town. I invited her to come back sometime when the snow had cleared and we were able to be out in the yard.
It delights me to know that there were gardens in this place fifty years ago, and people who were tending to it with care. It delights me that a small unexpected change in my routine led to an unexpected encounter. Meanwhile, the snow is melting, and the ground will soon be workable–maybe peas this weekend?
The Back Yard