I am of the opinion that acts of altruism are best done anonymously, because when you do something good and then go and take credit for doing it, you sort of take a bit of the good back for yourself. But I am going to forgo that and go ahead and tell you about the giving garden, because I really want to write about it and I'm probably already getting more than I'm giving already anyways because I have been enjoying this so much.
There is a large property across the road from our subdivision that is owned by the Dominican Sisters (nuns.) We have been on the campus in the past for various reasons, there is a chapel where they have mass, and a retreat house where the boys took catechism, and a Montessori daycare that Jeffrey used to attend. I had noticed there was a big garden there but hadn't known what it was for until this year when I saw a notice in the church paper asking for volunteers to help tend it. Turns out it is a "giving garden" run by volunteers and the produce is donated to the local food pantry. So I have been going there on Saturday mornings when the people are all there, and once during the week on my own. I have met some lovely people and gotten to learn about organic gardening, and most of all I just get to be there. We do have our own small garden plot in the backyard (remember the desk lamp seed starting project) that I also refer to as "salad bar for deer." This one is huge by comparison and is run by people who really know what they're doing.
While the boys were still in school I went there by myself, and it was a perfect spring day and I could hear the music from the preschool children singing, and I sat there pulling weeds and thought there was no place I'd rather be at that moment. Early in my career there were times when we were forced to take a certain amount of training each year. When I'd run out of relevant coursework I would usually sign up for something like "managing stress" because I knew it would mean at some point leaning back with my eyes closed and taking deep breaths while getting paid for it. They would usually tell us to use "guided imagery" and to imagine yourself in a peaceful place until the stress dot they stuck on your hand turned a color other than black (very high stress.) Well, this is it! My peaceful place! Maybe for some it is a beach in the tropics but since my vacations seem to bring their own measure of stress, I choose this garden.
So now I bring the boys with me. They like to pick things when they are ready and weigh them. We also use this as an excuse to be on the property, exploring a little. It turns out that the sandhill cranes that were in our lake have made their home over here, I got close enough to take this picture of the mother and baby.
There is also a cemetery, outdoor stations of the cross, an old mansion and a lake with a glass gazebo. Jeffrey was going around on his bike when I was finishing up and he said "I found someplace spooky." Then he showed me this spot that you totally cannot see until you are right up to it, like a secret door underground. What do you think it goes to?