Bringing people together
“Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes.” — Clare Ansberry
As a context for visiting with neighbors, I think gardening is second only to walking a dog. Whenever I’m out working in the yard or the flowerbeds, I always end up having friendly chats with neighbors who stroll by. And when I’m out walking, I love to greet others who are tending their lawns and gardens. We cheer each other on, swap tips and information, and commiserate about the woes of the weather, or hungry rabbits and squirrels and deer and insects, or anything else wreaking havoc with our efforts to beautify our little corner of the world. From neighbors I’ve learned about so many delightful shrubs and annuals and flowering vines, marveling at how much fun it is to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s efforts.
I think Ansberry used an apt phrase when she wrote of gardens drawing people from their homes, and in our era, we need that as never before. I can still remember the days before air conditioning, when adults would sit outside in the evening to enjoy cooler temperatures after heating up the kitchen with cooking dinner, and my neighborhood friends and I would play outdoor games until dark, or even later. For better and worse, those days are gone and I doubt they will ever return.
Now that we are ensconced in climate-controlled comfort, surrounded by abundance and our favorite furnishings, foods and fun, it’s hard to want to leave our indoor nests. We need not feel isolated when we can so easily talk, text or Skype with anyone anywhere in the world, even if we are still in our pajamas and robe. Being at home can combine the best of privacy and sociability, connecting us to each other from the safety of our separate cocoons. Weather, distance, gas prices– none of these things spoil the joy of staying home. But as much as I love spending time inside, I still think we are missing out if we never go outdoors and get to know our neighbors.
Gardening is an ideal way to meet people in a casual, unplanned setting. When we tend a flowerbed or just a single plant, we end up with much more than what we start with, even if our botanical results are less than optimal. Scientists agree that it’s therapeutic. For those who live where springtime is on its way, it’s the perfect time of year to get started. If you’re heading into autumn, remember that each season brings fresh delights (and specific tasks) that might be calling your name.
Our weather is expected to be chilly this week, but when I wrap up and work outdoors, I almost always end up peeling off my outer coat because the chores, strenuous or not, warm me up quickly. So I expect to be spending some more time outside over the next few days. I hope you enjoy a some sunny days this week or very soon. Tell us what you are planning and planting– and tell your neighbors hello for us!