...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

One Small Garden

It rained a soaking rain last night, so the work--like the air--is lighter in the garden today. Let's take a holiday. Children may play dress-up with their play time, but we grown-ups put away such childishness. We approach that nook of play-longing in our souls more subtly. We may shop, or go to a ballgame. We may settle for a "real" tea party complete with an impossibly dainty tea service--one that was handed down to us from that very grandma who once let us play dress-up in her closet, loading ourselves with her costume jewelry and flowing robes.

So while we drink our tea, I'll read to you from a delightful children's book by Barbara Nichol called One Small Garden. Her introduction bears witness that this--while billed a children's book--nevertheless inspires all who find themselves willing to make the sacrifice to create garden space despite its being crowded into city-space. Her words remind that children do more than dress up and play tea party. They play outside and watch the things we do...even in our tiniest gardens.

To my dear readers:

In the heart of a city, downtown, there is a small garden.

The truth is, there are many gardens here--thousands of gardens--adjoining thousands of houses in this place that used to be a forest.

This garden, though, is hidden from the street. It's been here for a hundred years, nestled close beside a house--a house built long ago behind another house. This is a garden you would not suspect is there.

This garden--or little piece of land--it has a history, of course. It has a story--a story that's as ancient as the world. Most of it's a history we'll never know about. Most things that happen in the world are never written down. Most things that happen in the world take place when no one's looking.

Perhaps this little patch of ground had other buildings on it once: a little shed perhaps--some little place of shelter. It might have been a farm. Perhaps there was an inn nearby. Perhaps a road went through, a road made out of logs to keep the carts from sinking.

Whatever thing this little piece of land has been--forest or pasture or homestead or road--there came a day when it was stitched into the huge patchwork of the city. There came a day when someone decided this piece of land would be a garden.

That is the role this patch of ground will play for now--a garden in a neighborhood called Cabbagetown. The garden's in a city that used to be Fort York, and then it was called York, and now is called Toronto. It's possible it will one day have another name, or just be known as somewhere where a city used to be.

I have visited this garden for the past ten years or so.

In this book are some of the things I've learned about the plants, some of the plants and animals that caught my eye and the stories that they brought to mind--stories I've been told. The stories in this book are little stories--parts of stories--the kinds of things that usually aren't written down...

Little stories that aren't usually written down.

Such stories might be born even in a little patch of flowers surrounding one large stone, especially if a young bunny decides to reside there. Stories of smells and sounds and adventures had by creatures too small to matter to most--but not all. Take a child outside and explore. Throw a ball or have a tea party. Sit in the shade and read a book together. Do all this so you'll make a garden worth more than a season of healthier meals.

You'll make a garden worth remembering...

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