One rainy Saturday morning six years ago I was kicked out of my apartment while a camera crew was there filming an interview with Davin. With nothing to do and no real direction, I found myself headed towards my community garden plot, which was then just a few blocks away. The garden was (and still is) an almost secret place tucked between an alley, the railroads tracks, and a beer store.
The documentary crew had been following me around for a few days and I was feeling contemplative and grateful for an hour of solitude to be alone with my thoughts. I didn’t have any work to do at the garden (a rarity) so I strolled around slowly, looking at little things. Eventually I caught myself standing still, just listening. I had never done that before. Here in the city we are always surrounded by sound and I think one of the ways we adapt to the constant assault on our senses is by tuning things out as if we are wearing earmuffs. The first sound I caught was the rhythmic, almost soothing hum of the beer store refrigerators. I had spent countless hours working in the garden and had never noticed the sound before. I heard car tires over pavement in the parking lot and the sound of car doors slamming. I heard a train zooming past, drowning out all other sounds for a minute. And then, when it got far enough away I heard crickets, small insects, people yelling, and my friend the mockingbird that often sits on a tower over the tracks imitating other birds and other sounds it picks up along the tracks.
Part 1 of this two part article can be found over here.
How to Make and Lay the Pathway
Step 1: Define the Path
I began this project two years ago so my path was already defined. To do that I laid down twine, and tied the ends to twigs to hold it in place. Some people use a hose to accomplish this, but I prefer twine because I can leave it in place and live with it for some time before committing to the final layout and pathway width.
When I moved in, the yard I inherited was barely more than a lumpy patch of “grass.” My theory is that the yard was once a vegetable garden that was left to go fallow and was eventually seeded without being levelled. It was extremely sloped in multiple directions, and full of large lumps and even larger potholes that I often tripped in while trying to walk across. Our goal for the space was to remove all of the lumpy “grass” and level the sloped yard as best we could to improve drainage. Digging it all by hand, shifting the soil, and building raised beds along the west side (where it is lowest) in addition to getting plants in on time, sowing seed, building a compost bin, etc was, quite simply, enough for one year. As a compromise, we made a pathway halfway up and left a small patch of “grass” at the back. In the second year we decided to change things up, extending the garden in front and moving the main entrance to the right. I also marked out new paths and smaller beds on the east side of the garden. By the time that was done, I was simply too tired to tackle that patch of “grass.”
This spring, as soon as the ground was workable, Davin and I were out there nearly everyday working away at that patch, digging it up a few inches at a time. We were determined that this would be the year that we would finally get it all out — no more hand-clipping the tenacious, miss-matched patch of this and that. No more stumbling and tripping in the potholes.
And we did it! Last Friday we got it all out and laid down a layer of mulch in its place. The following (broken down into two parts) are the ins-and-outs to how we did it.
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It’s been interesting to see how differently people react to the Grow Write Guild prompts. Some people say they’re too easy; others too hard. I’m behind schedule with my responses and was very tempted to throw in a super easy one for number 4, but I promised myself from the start that I would not write prompts to suit my own needs. Falling behind is not the end of the world. That said, I do have a simple one in mind for the near future. It just didn’t feel like the right time to pull it out.
I didn’t find number 3 particularly difficult to do. I’m late because I was feeling lazy and didn’t feel like writing it. However, I did enjoy taking the pictures.
Grow Write Guild Prompt #3: Describe your garden right now.
Stand in one spot in your garden and describe what you see in front of you. Turn to your right. Describe what you see there. What’s behind you? Your left side? What is underneath your feet? What do you see above your head?
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The Oxford dictionary defines a mentor as, “an experienced and trusted adviser” and a muse as “…the source of inspiration for a creative artist.”
Many gardeners have someone in their life, be it a family member, close friend, colleague, or a public figure to whom they have looked for gardening guidance, knowledge, inspiration, and/or influence. They make you think differently about your garden. They inspire you to try harder and do better. They teach by example. Their work has influenced some of the choices you’ve made in your garden over the years.
Grow Write Guild Prompt #4: Write about your garden mentor or muse.