The kindness of strangers

The first half of 2020 is behind us and summer is beginning to wind down. I am saddened that I have not written nearly as much as I had planned, but this year has been – well it’s been 2020. I do want to jot down some updates and share some of the great experiences I have had this summer. So let me start with the pollinator garden at my local elementary school. You may recall that I secured a grant last year to create a little butterfly paradise as a way to introduce the kids to pollinator conservation (in case you missed it you can read about it here: My Field (er, garden) of dreams).

This summer began much like the last one, with me packing my bike trailer with buckets of water and perching my full watering can on my handlebars and biking over every day, sometimes twice a day, to water what seems to be the only patch of desert that exists in Ontario. A slight exaggeration, but it seems the soil at the school is always dry no matter what I do.

So this year was going well. I didn’t have the students plant zinnia seeds for me this year (since the school has been closed since March), so I filled the area with a few more native perennials. This time, at least, I had the foresight to select more drought-tolerant species! Watering and maintenance were carrying along just fine until about mid-July when I biked over only to find neon orange plastic fencing and a torn up parking lot separating me from the garden. So I biked back home and hoped that the work would be completed quickly.

About 5 weeks past. Finally the work is done. The fence is still “technically up” but its sagging and I could easily (stealthily) get to the garden to survey the damage and provide much needed water. One cardinal flower bit the dust (the other was surprisingly in bloom!), the bee balm is on death’s door but will fight its way back from the light, and the rest just looked sad and wilted. Much better than I feared, but I was still feeling pretty bummed about the current state of affairs. As I worked along, rationing out the water that I had, I noticed a large clump of violets in a place where I hadn’t planted any violets. I would have thought it was a volunteer that wanted to join the pollinator party except it had a tag identifying it. That is when I realized it had been moved from the edge of the garden where it originally had a home. Walking over I saw that the stone edging had been moved inward and the new paving was covering where the stone edging and violet had been. Someone went to the trouble to dig the violet up, move it, and then move the edging for me. They could have just ripped the stone out and tossed it aside. They could have paved up to and over the violet. But someone took the time to treat my garden with great respect. I do not know if it was one of the construction crew or perhaps the custodian who has seen me there watering for the past 2 years. But the thoughtfulness, the kindness, that they showed filled my heart. It is a great reminder that these seemingly small acts are often times the ones that have the biggest impact.

The violet is thirsty but will be just fine thanks to the care given to move it out of harms way
The paving would have covered over the edging and the violet if no one had cared about my garden

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