Snowing In Springtime

Shawnee Youth Advocates and community members work in the People's Garden March 2013.The first real day of spring is a very distinct day and it is not marked on any calendar. It is the day in March when the world begins to move again; the sidewalks become filled with people walking with their families and friends and it suddenly seems that everyone is on a bicycle. Year after year I am surprised by this day and how alive and active my city feels. Then I remind myself that the city was never dead, it was only the winter which was keeping the activity inside for a time.

This past Saturday was the first real day of spring in Louisville – the temperatures reached into the 50’s, the breeze was cool but not cutting, and the sun finally made its way past the gray winter clouds. I had the fortune of spending the day in the People’s Garden alongside friends, co-workers, and kids from the Shawnee Neighborhood Association Youth Advocates. We turned up the soil for the first time this year and planted blackberry bushes, raspberry bushes, and two pear trees. As we shoveled and tilled and the dirt made its way underneath our finger nails, the scent of soil and air filled our lungs and incited our conversations. There is no better place to talk about the seeds of change and the systems of our world than in the garden. Breaking into the dirt reveals all sorts of hidden treasures – roots short and deep, lots and lots of earthworms gently doing their essential and hidden work. A peek into this world opens the mind to think about the way that our world works. What roots do we find when we dig past the surface? What structures do we find that support what we see in our everyday lives? Who do we find doing the essential, invisible work and how are they living? The Shawnee Youth Advocates delved deep into these questions on Saturday. As they planted fruit seeds, they talked about their vision for a better world and how to achieve it.

Today in Louisville it looks more like the winter holidays than the beginning of spring as the snow falls and covers the ground, but the sun shone so brightly on Saturday that I still have some redness in my cheeks from a mild sunburn. This sunburn I wear proudly because it represents my first real day of spring and the seeds of change I saw planted in the ground and in the community. Even with a snowy day setback, spring is an unstoppable force as are people and community when it is cultivated and given the space and warmth to grow. I can imagine nothing more satisfying than enjoying a blackberry, raspberry, and pear from the People’s Garden just a little time down the road.