Last week I went to York, PA, with 9 of “my” teenagers from the Now Church youth group, and two other adults. We met up with a bunch of other youth groups under the auspices of Group’s “Week of Hope” and did community service for the . . . community . . . with people we didn’t necessarily know before, all week. It was great. Also, I discovered something really weird: even when it’s 97 degrees out, and more humid than a Swedish sauna, I like gardening/landscaping. Especially when showers afterward are available, which was not a foregone conclusion on the 4th of July, but that’s another story which may never make it to this blog because I’m pretty sure you had to be there and you might consider being grateful that you weren’t.
I used to hate it when my parents would conscript my services in the garden, and I have a little trouble doing all the yardwork I feel I should at my home right now, although it’s more because of busyness than dislike of the actual activity. This morning at church one of the two other chaperones announced decidedly to me that he never wanted to look at a garden again in his life, and he only had to do gardening one day this week and the rest of the time visited residents at a nursing home. I, on the other hand, got home on Friday and the next morning got up, pulled on some “grubbies” and set to work clearing out the yellow rhubarb and building a fence from scratch. (It is not very far along–at all–but I’m still kind of proud of myself.)
I spent the week weeding and hacking and shaping shrubbery, while the kids swung from ivy in an attempt to pull it from the trees and the other adult lopped branches from other trees. I got better and better at the shrub hacking, so that by the end of the week, my assigned forsythia looked like a very tidy ice cream cone.
We would break for water, which we certainly needed to do, given how hot it was, and I would drink the water and go right back to work. Maybe it tapped into my delusions about being a hippie. Although I’m pretty sure a hippie forsythia? Would look like the one at the top of this post and not like the one I ended up sculpting. I began fantasising about moving back to London and apprenticing myself to Gardener-Elaine; I can’t pretend I’m actually good at this yet. Gardener-Elaine herself, for example, pointed out on my facebook page that I have the ladder the wrong way round and am using the wrong tools. (In my defense, I would like to say that the loppers were the only tools working at this point, as they were both long-handled and sharp enough to accomplish what still needed doing, unlike the shears.) But I feel like I learned a lot and maybe I could become a gardener/landscaper on the side or something. Or cut animal shapes into the bushes at Disney World. If I could only get my own garden to produce more than a bonsai tomato, which was not originally of the “cherry” variety.