Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz,
I wonder where the birdie is?
The little bird is on the wing....
No, that's absurd!
The wing is on the little bird.
You know, there's something special about gardens. That whole bringing people together thing. Sounds sappy but damn it, it's true. Without even trying, our garden already manages to foster a sense of, well... community. We aren't near any council flats, there's no magical melding of people from across the globe. Nor does the garden reach across any sort of socio-economic spectrum, we're all pretty much middle class whities with a genteel gardening addiction. Nonetheless, doing my bit at the working bee on Saturday, I couldn't help but notice a definite sense of community. It was there in the quiet conversation of myself and my fellow gardeners, it was there in the jokes we made as we worked together, pulling weeds and spreading mulch and it was there at the end of the day when we proudly swapped the veggies and flowers we'd grown in our plots.
This irresistible wave of community (and curiosity) also drew in passers-by. Two older men, one from Russia, one from Germany stopped by and chatted about gardens in Germany and a cousin with a plot in a garden in St Kilda. An old Italian man and his small white dog paused to admire my weeding. In halting but enthusiastic English the man explained that he was walking the dog for his friend who was sick and he briefly foisted the dog on me for a pat. A quiet young hipster with dark glasses and bad teeth inquired whether we had any veggies for sale and he was immediately rewarded with an armful of free produce.
But, most interesting of all was the couple, about my parents' age, who stopped to chat while I was mulching the front verge. I couldn't work out if they were husband and wife or brother and sister but they explained that they'd both grown up in Brunswick, just around the corner off Albion Street. It was their first trip back in years. They'd spent the morning revisiting old haunts and had brunch at a cafe that used to be their local milk bar (A Minor Place). The area we were standing on, they explained, had been vacant, surrounded by empty land and run-down factories.
They couldn't believe the transformation that had happened in the area and they enjoyed sharing their reminiscences as much as I enjoyed hearing them. They were blown away by the garden, I told them how it had started and about our ongoing plans for the sensory beds and the gazebo; and they promised to come back and visit in the future to watch it grow. As I handed them two heads of lettuce from my plot I realised that the garden had done it again, this time reaching across time and effortlessly bringing people together through the past and the present and the future.