Published Date Written by Tom EastmanOK, OK. SO IT LOOKS LIKE I do deserve to have eggplant, if not egg, on my face when it comes to community gardening after all ....
Readers of the Valley Voice will recall that the focus of last week's column was on my “Thickening Garden Plot,” about how it appeared that someone else was also unknowingly tilling my community garden plot. One sign was that marigolds sprouted in what I thought was MY garden, and I had not planted any marigolds. Well, the “Mystery of the Marigolds” caper has been solved.
And alas, the joke is on ... yours truly, the “greenest” (as in rookie) gardener ever.
It turns out that yes, I have been watering and fertilizing the WRONG garden plot in the MWV Green Team's Community Garden on a corner of Joan and Russ Lanoie's land off Tasker Hill Road in Madison.
After leaving a message or two on her voice mail last week, I received a call from MWV Green Team Community Garden coordinator Jenn Andrews after last Friday's Valley Voice column appeared in the Sun. She also emailed me a map of the 10 or so garden plots at the garden.
“The garden that you and I planted Tom,” she informed me, “is the next row over, and one down. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner but I've been away on business a lot,” she told me. “If you want,” she kindly added, “I can meet you there tomorrow morning and we can transplant the plants you put in the other [as in the WRONG] garden, and we can till the soil and check on the cherry tomatoes we planted on Memorial Day in your plot.”
Sheepishly, I bought the coffee and met Jenn there last Saturday morning. Amazingly, the cherry tomatoes that I had planted in May but had not tended to had survived!
We moved some dill plants from the wrong plot, turned over the soil, watered it, and that was it. (I also moved my golf ball and cardboard sign from the wrong plot and set it up to show ownership at the right plot).
I of course left the NCIL slab that was in the other garden right there. Where it belonged, as it turned out. It was, after all, their garden, and not mine.
I went back two days later Monday night to water the plants, and encountered a group from North Country Independent Living — the true cultivators of the plot that I had mistakenly thought was mine.
They were accompanied by two of their counselors. The entire NCIL group couldn't have been friendlier, or kinder.
I'm not sure if they knew that I was the guy who had been unknowingly helping them along with their garden all summer, watering the wrong 5 x 10 raised bed, but it didn't matter. And I certainly wasn't going to tell them now that I was the guy who had put my sign in their garden along with my golf ball.
The NCIL clients and counselors all volunteered to help me out.
“Do you want some help watering?” NCIL's Nick asked.
“Hey, what's that golf ball doing in your garden?” asked fellow NCIL gardener Sean.
“Ah,” I said, “I just use it to show ownership. Like a sign.”
(Luckily, to my relief, they didn't seem to make the connection between that golf ball, my plot and their plot).
We watered my Charlie Brown, Christmas-tree-like cherry tomato garden, and as we all did, I felt that this story might just have a happy ending after all, and one on a deeper level than I had anticipated.
It dawned on me that we were all gardeners, no matter our background, working the land, together. A true community effort, both at the original plot, and now at this one.
As the sun set, I bid them good evening, and as I drove home, I thought how we all have a need to make this world a better place, even in some small way, no matter our outlook or challenges.
The NCIL counselors and client gardeners are doing that, and they helped me to achieve something out of the ordinary, too.
And yes, next year, I will be sure to check the community garden plot map to make sure just which one is mine before I invest too much time, energy — and seedlings — into it.
All I can say is hey, after all of the ribbing I have received since publishing last week's column, at least I know now that there are a lot of gardeners out there who read this column.
TOP OF THE WEEKEND: There is never a lack of excitement at this time of year, and that's certainly true this weekend. Among the highlights?
Irish tenor Mark Forrest's “Songs of Inspiration Concert,” will be held Friday at 7 p.m. in the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center on the campus of Fryeburg Academy.
He will be accompanied by pianist John-Paul Kaplan of Chicago. Kaplan has performed for such artists as B.B. King, Tony Bennett and Vanessa Williams.
From “Danny Boy” and “Wind Beneath My Wings,” to “God Bless America,” this one ought to be a doozie.
It's all a benefit for the Mother Seton House for unwed mothers in Fryeburg.
Advance tickets are on sale at Delaney's, May Kelly's Cottage Restaurant and Pub, and the Shannon Door Irish Pub. They may also be purchased at all 17 branches of Northway Bank. Tickets will also be on sale at the door.
From the Vatican to Carnegie Hall — and now Fryeburg — Forrest has sung inspirational hymns for luminaries such as Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.
Yours truly was invited to join the Irish-accented Forrest and Kaplan for dinner at May Kelly's Irish Cottage Wednesday evening.
As May Kelly's co-proprietor Marie McArdle sat us all down, a great night of storytelling and philosophical discussion ensued.
Others on hand also included Cindy and Alan Broyer of the Mother Seton House, Tom Enos of Our Lady of the Mountains Knights of Columbus, volunteers/Forrest friends John Donovan and Marian O'Donnell of Freedom and Virginia, and Ellen Belcastro.
Forrest is a gifted storyteller, as well as singer. Over a great meal, he explained that his music is his “vehicle to help the less fortunate of the world.”
“It's this gift from God. If I have it, then I can use it to do good,” he said, in between regaling those of us at the table with stories about Ireland and performing, but just as significantly, about his faith and how it helps to overcome the challenges of life.
When I told him the story of my unintentional joint garden with NCIL as noted earlier, he was touched.
That's because Mark and his wife, Muriel, have three special needs children who are deaf, blind and wheelchair bound. They also lost a son, Francesco, after just five days. They have four healthy sons.
Bringing up a topic he discussed in an interview with this reporter last week, Forrest spoke in greater detail about the non-profit, non-denominational Faith and Family Foundation he and Muriel founded in Purceville, Va., in 1999.
The organization helps to “bring support and encouragement to parents and siblings of babies born with chronic or fatal illnesses,” according to its website (www.faithfamilyfoundation.org).
“We have families come and ride therapeutic horses and pet the therapy dogs. We're even going to present a family movie night next week where we expect 350 people to come. Many families with disabled children have never been able to go to the movies. We also have a hair salon — where families can bring their children to have their hair cut, and relax, because imagine what it is like,” said Forrest, someone who understands those daily trials that parents of special needs children face.
The sanctity of life is paramount, he says. It's no great leap, then, for him to want to help out the Mother Seton House cause.
Mother Seton House Inc. is a non-profit organization serving women and infants in Fryeburg and surrounding communities in both Maine and New Hampshire. The non-profit organization is raising funds to renovate and operate a house for pregnant women, new mothers and infants in difficult circumstances. For further information, visit www.mothersetonhouse.com.
Hope to see you at the concert!
TOP OF NEW ENGLAND: Hundreds of hikers will be climbing Mount Washington July 21 for the Mount Washington Observatory's annual Seek the Peak fund-raiser. Its starts with a kick-off party at the Weather Discovery Center on Main Street in North Conway Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., and ends with the non-profit, member-supported Obs' annual meeting and apres party at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday.
For further information, visit www.seekthepeak.org.
ART IN THE MOUNTAINS: Speaking of the mountains, we took in collector Andy McLane's talk at the Whitney Center in Jackson Monday about the 19th century White Mountain School of Art paintings.
McLane's talk was part of the program for the Hudson River Valley School fellows, who are painting “en plein (open air)” this month at various locations throughout the valley, just like the White Mountain School of Art members did 150 years ago.
A highlight for the artists after a dinner at Warren and Leslie Schomaker's Tuesday night was seeing the pink-sky sunset which followed the evening's thunder-boomers.
“Four or five of the artists were out there, painting that beautiful sight. I've lived here a while now, and I have never seen a sky like that!” said Warren, who is president of the Jackson Historical Society which obtained two local grants from the Woodbury-Gibson and Goldberg foundations to help pay for the month long stay by the artists.
As we wrote in last Saturday's cover story, the artists are being hosted by Erik Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq of Jackson and the JHS. Be sure to stop by the old Jackson Town Hall, now leased by the JHS, to view its collection of twenty-five 19th century paintings in a soon-to-be completed second-floor museum.
There's also an ongoing exhibit on White Mountain art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston that opened last Saturday and will be on display through July 2013.
“This interest in White Mountain Art is bursting at the seams,” said Warren, who has spearheaded the effort to create the local museum with fellow JHS members.
ART IN THE PARK: Meanwhile, the MWV Arts Association's Art in the Park takes place in North Conway's Schouler Park Saturday. It's always one of the highlights of the year for art lovers.
JUBILEE, NEW ORLEANS STYLE: Entrain was the second arts Jubilee of the season at Cranmore July 19. Next up is the return of New Orleans trumpeter James Anderson and his “Funky Mardis Gras” July 26.
That's all from this once-again watered garden plot. Happy b-days to one and all, including Sun publisher Mark Guerringue (7-28) and gardener Sharon Zemla (also 7-28) good luck to managing editor Bart Bachman in his first half marathon in Portland Sunday, and see you out and about this SportCoup, motorized bike, Segway, kayak and mountain bike-crazed valley as the best of summer continues.