Growing Children in the Garden

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A couple of days ago Amie was helping me in the garden. She was raking away the weeds I had just hoed – though raking around is closer to the truth.  There was a lot of chopping with her little rake, too close to my face. There was also yelling – “Go away, weeeeeds, go away!” She was not wearing a shirt – adamantly refused to wear a shirt. Her hair, though newly cut, bounced wildly. Several times I had to remind her when she stepped onto the small buckwheat field close to where we worked.

A neighbor who has been interested in our gardening – which is visible from the street – was walking her dog and came up our driveway to say hello. We chatted while Amie transferred water around, from bucket to bucket, getting the path and herself quite muddy. Amie explained:

– That’s why I didn’t want to wear a shirt, because I’m working with water.

Very sensible.

My neighbor said, quietly:

– I’ve been watching and… isn’t Amie in your way?

I looked at her in surprise, and said:

– In the garden she’s as much in my way as the tomatoes, or the lettuces!

My neighbor smiled and we talked of how children really should be in the garden, growing just like the vegetables and the flowers do.

Barry Lopez wrote: “One of the great dreams of man must be to find some place between the extremes of nature and civilization where it is possible to live without regret.” Could my garden by such a place, for me, for Amie?

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