Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gathering fresh lettuce in the evening twilight

Lead by my friend and assistant of two years, whom I shall call Colby, a group of environmentally aware students have started a community garden. It is not large, only about 20X20 yards. It is located on a plot of vacant land behind Nebraska Hall, a refurbished dormitory for third and fourth year students on the periphery of AU’s main campus. Colby has reported on the garden’s progress periodically. Now she is facing the challenge with which all student leaders of innovative projects and organizations must cope: graduation. Colby received her degree in May and will be leaving the university to begin new life-adventures at the end of July. She has enlisted a cadre of ten volunteers who she hopes, will be the next generation of community gardeners.

When we met yesterday afternoon, my friend mentioned that there was fresh lettuce and other produce available for the taking. In fact, one of the challenges faced by the community gardeners at this stage of the project’s development is finding enough consumers for the produce that is beginning to ripen. Since my dinner is, almost invariably, a light salad, I decided to check out what was available. I shut down my computer about 8:15, attached saddle bags to my bicycle and, in the early evening, set out to harvest my dinner.

Global warming not withstanding, this has been an exceptionally beautiful July in Washington, with days in the mid 80s and evenings in the seventies. This day was no exception. The sky was clear, with only a few puffy clouds fading from orange to lavender. Rush hour traffic at Ward circle had subsided. A gentile twilight breeze was cool and fresh.

The garden already had potential clients, two adolescent deer, who looked longingly through the wire fence as they nibbled grass and shrubbery on the periphery. Deer are not uncommon on the District of Colombia’s outskirts. Mostly they are city-wise survivors. Those who are not end short lives as road kill. These two watched me warily, at a safe distance, as I opened the gate and filled my shopping bag with fresh lettuce and arugula. I moved deliberately so as not to frighten them and they did not seem to be afraid.

Having finished my harvesting, taking only enough for two meals, I decided to share a portion with my companions. Again moving deliberately, I approached them with a generous handful of fresh lettuce leaves and laid them on the ground. I backed up a few steps. They watched me, but then turned away and vanished into the underbrush, nearby. City-wise, they had learned that while some human beings might seem benign, it was safer to give all of us a wide birth.


Blogger Shinjinee said...

I hope that the fresh salad was exceptionally tasty!

7:09 PM  

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