Have I mentioned how much I love my community garden?
It’s such a peaceful place – a quiet piece of Eden in a busy, busy corner of Missoula.
I pick up our share on Monday afternoons after I leave work, and despite knowing my destination is one of my favorite places, I always quietly dread the drive.
Normally, I surpass the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Missoula’s famously congested Reserve Street by hopping on the interstate and taking a less-direct, but quicker, route home.
On Mondays, though, I must face the beast that is Reserve head-on. There’s no other way to get to the garden from my workplace because there are only so many bridges that cross the Clark Fork.
I breathe deeply and listen to music on the way, trying not to care about how much gas I’m wasting (this worry is of course directly tied to my guilt about my dependency on my car and the Gulf Oil Spill) in the barely crawling traffic, or the oppressive 90-degree heat that makes my car’s less-than-perfect air conditioning system work, feebly, on overdrive. I smile at other drivers, I sing along, loudly and badly, to the radio, I wave people ahead of me, I try to notice some sort of nature (birds, a bit of greenery) in the concrete jungle.
I do all of these things, and my hands are still tense on the steering wheel by the time I get to my turn off, the aptly named River Road, where pavement gives way to lawns and gardens and fields and forests. Within moments, I’m at the garden, and my tension slips away.
Inside the cool, shaded barn, the week’s produce is arranged on a table, and everyone’s share is listed on a white board. The garden manager, Sarah, greets everyone with a smile and is always open to questions of “What exactly, is this?” or “How do you recommend cooking that?”
Later in the summer, I’ll go out into the garden to clip flowers, and I’ll be astounded at how the noise from Reserve, which borders the garden, is muted, and instead the buzz of bees and chatter of garden helpers and tenders only occasionally breaks the peaceful silence of growing.
I hoard these moments – these quiet moments of community and connection to the Earth – so I can survive those hours on Reserve.