Hello fellow readers,
Talk about a shift! The chill, albeit wet and soggy, feels like back to school. For me too, as I registered for a fiction workshop at Warren County Community College. It felt nostalgic going back to school; familiar butterflies and all. There’s a process of obtaining a student ID I had to ask an eighteen-year-old classmate about. It should be noted, there are other more than millennials in class. The desk person at the library, also a student, handed me the paperwork date stamped 9-11. “Do you recall that day?” I asked. “No, other than people crying.” He revealed he was four at the time. We chatted about that day and how it brought a wave of patriotism and acceptance of each other no matter our cultural differences. “How sad,” I added, “that much of the comradery has been lost today.” He nodded in agreement, this kind young man of mixed descent. How I look forward to the day when we look upon each other as One. One with nature. One with the world. Maybe it sounds cliché. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. I think of it as Hope.
What does this have to do with gardening? The garden of life? Last week we spoke about beautiful roadside weeds. One considered invasive (Knotweed) from Asia. One native (Jewelweed) used by native Americans as a remedy for many things. Both beautiful. Maybe it’s a far-reaching wish that someday plants that found their way here from other countries are accepted. That our ecology adapts. That “invasive” status is no longer so, as wildlife goes to the imported food for sustenance so that native plants are no longer squelched. A balance in nature. Maybe a dream, but let’s not forget from where we came.
A side note…. At a recent workshop in Lancaster PA*, I had the joy of meeting Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks who wrote Chicken Bone Beach, A Pictorial History of Atlantic City’s Missouri Avenue Beach. She came upon the idea when she marveled over an exhibit from the Chicken Bone Beach Collection – photographs by a self-taught photographer named John W. Mosely of Philadelphia. In her book, Cheryl explained, “While, so many images of the publicly-accepted African-American history have shown struggle, pain, humiliation, and dismay, John Mosley’s photographs depicted joy, laughter, family, fun, community, and love.”
As we chatted I shared what I do for a living. “Get out. You make a living designing garden?” She whips out her phone and scrolls for photos. “I love to garden.” She shared the creative layout of her plot in a community garden explaining how each year she plants something new. One year she had sunflowers in the middle of the garden which the birds loved. “I gave you the seeds the least you can do is not poop on my vegetables,” she joked. “So, this year I didn’t put the sunflowers in the middle and tried beets.” Remember, learn, grow & love. Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone.com
* The Lancaster creative nonfiction workshop I had the privilege to attend is called HippoCamp is hosted by Hippocampus Magazine, an online magazine and print book publisher of true stories.