Homeschooling gives us a strong sense of community on its own but sometimes that community seems a little bit distant. Physically. We have a very close-knit neighborhood and have been fortunate to make many strong connections with those living nearby, but when I pull out of my own neighborhood, I feel like an outsider. Granted I didn’t grow up in this area of the state and had only visited my current hometown once or twice before our closing date. But I imagine that when you have kids enrolled in a local school, you feel a stronger sense of community. The feeling of community can be fostered by having acquaintences all over town, the handouts that come home with the kids telling you all about the local fundraisers and upcoming athletic events, and seeing familiar faces at the grocery store and post office. I feel this strongly in the town where I tend bar but sadly not in the town where I reside.
Recently this has started to bother me a little bit so I did the first two things I could think of to embed ourselves in this town a little further: I registered Lucy for fall soccer and I signed us up for a 10 X 10 plot in our Community Garden. The plot we were assigned was completely untouched before we arrived, full of clay and rocks and a smattering of sand. The town provides free topsoil and compost, however, so Lucy and I got to work straight away and a few hours later we had a (somewhat) workable piece of land.
Lucy was a trooper, raking soil and compost together and spreading them around as I hauled load after load over to her with the wheelbarrow. As we worked we met a kind older gentleman who gave us all the dirt on the garden and its gardeners. He was sweet and encouraging and very concerned about groundhogs, something that has never been an issue for us at home where we have one tiny raised bed and a few containers. My spirits were not dampened, instead I felt a surge of community. We had been here barely an hour and we had already made an acquaintance! What more was in store for us this summer? When it was as good as it was going to get we planted corn, peppers, broccoli, peas, watermelon, onions, and arugula. Yes, the kids went a little nuts at the greenhouse but who am I to discourage my children from growing vegetables? As we were tucking the last few seedlings into the earth, the rain came and we walked away exhausted and filled with anticipation.
My head swam all afternoon with visions of our garden; my hands in the earth, my children by my side chatting with other children nearby, friendly discussions, blue skies, mountains of vegetables, maybe we would even break out in song? Okay, I might have gone overboard.
Several things have happened, or shall I say not happened, since that first glorious morning:
- Not once have I seen another person in that garden. Not even once!
- Groundhogs, it turns out, are little jerks. Sayonara peas and broccoli.
- My children have zero interest in helping me. When we stop by to water it they opt to stay in the car and make me leave it on so they can listen to The Penderwicks audiobook that is their current obsession. I tell them I bet Batty and Hound would help in the garden but they don’t take the bait.
- The corn and watermelon are doing meh. I’m pretty confident everything else is going to die.
I’m not calling it a bust just yet, but I’m pretty sure if anybody breaks out in song at the sight of this, they will likely be singing the blues.