This weekend my boyfriend (aka: Guerilla #2) and I took our greenish thumbs and began the process of Growing Things. This process entails ooh'ing and aah'ing over seed packets, dreaming grandiose dreams of backyard composting, drooling over colored pots, and mentally willing hummingbirds to roost in our eaves.
(At least it does for me. Guerilla #2 comes from Kansas farming stock so for him growing things is second nature. Also, do hummingbirds roost?* Gotta ask Google.)
The reality of gardening for us two guerillas is far from the dream. We're all about mismatched pots of recycled soil filled with bits of sidewalk rubbish, seeds and prayers. "Oh please oh please oh please let these beans grow," I mutter as I pick out spongy cigarette butts. "Oh please oh please oh please don't let me cut my hand on a stray piece of glass."
I doubt that our form of gardening is unique to us two. In fact, I think most people in the District engage in the same cockeyed gardening methodology of wishful thinking, prayer, and rubbish-sifting. Looking around at the postage stamp-sized yards, I see the results of their wishful thinking. The many hours spent lovingly tending those wee patches of Earth sometimes erupt in cacophonous blooms, a riot of color; sometimes in a slow trickle of green, a leaky faucet of leaves.
The thing I love the most - THE MOST - about gardening is not the insanity of color and texture (though I love that very much), but rather that it introduces you, the gardener, to strangers. In the course of an hour spent tying ivy to the fence rails with pipe cleaners, I met three dogs that let me pet their heads and their three owners who didn't. (With the exception of Guerilla #2, people don't seem to like when I pet their heads. Guerilla #2 would trade a kidney for a good head rub, but strangers? Not so much.)
I met a neighbor from across the alley and I learned that she has a cat. I met a man on a bicycle who weeds people's yards for spare change, and I learned that that man can REALLY weed. His weed-busting was astounding. I also learned that the next door neighbor's front steps didn't fare well through the winter's salt and that he was planning to paint them a new color, thus deviating from the standard black iron.
For me, this is what gardening is about. It is opportunity and possibility. A spade in one hand, my other remains free to shake those of the people I meet. Freshly turned soil is a clean slate waiting to be written upon. Each seed carries the potential to turn a corner of my world into something green and climbing. Tendrils curl about the fence posts; seedlings stretch to catch the sun. Possibility and opportunity. Gardening opens windows that look into people's lives and goodness knows how I love looking in people's windows.
From the world's biggest gardening novice, I welcome you to join me and the rest of the D.C. Guerilla Gardeners as we undertake to turn the unused pieces of our city into teeny bits of possibility and opportunity.
Join us on April 18th as we overturn soil as a group for the very first time. And stay tuned for more to come throughout the season! Garden District will teach us how to plant trees, we'll swap recipes for seed bombs, I'll start a one-woman campaign of seedling love and adoption, and you'll get to hear more stories from the guerilla gardening crew.
*This just in: hummingbirds roost! In safe places where there are trees and grasses and lots o' nectar.