Building Community One Conversation at a Time

“We’ve got to get back to the garden.”


October 5, 2012

I often wonder why I like to dig in the dirt.  Most of my friends my age don’t enjoy gardening, or at least don’t want to admit it.

It’s not like I even consider myself a “gardener.”  I couldn’t tell you the names of many of the plants in our garden, which my wife and I recently inherited with the purchase of our Tazewell Avenue home.

What I do know is that I enjoy it.

For some, however, gardening is a solitary affair: a chance to be alone with one’s thoughts.  To escape the other, more mundane chores that await them back inside, to even get a little bit of exercise or to feel the warmth of the sun against their face.  The reasons why people garden are about as varied as the shells you might find walking the shoreline of Smith Island.

For me, working in the yard has always been a chance to do all of the above – and to be social.  Gardening is not usually a social activity, such as playing golf, or attending a dinner party.  It’s usually different with me.

At some point during my yard work, a conversation with someone typically ensues.  Oftentimes, a neighbor strolling down the street might toss out a “lookin’ good!” or even a “love what you’ve done with the place” and keep walking.  Sometimes, such comments lead to a return of “thanks” and other times, it begins a 20-minute conversation about any variety of topics.

Often, I simply need a break from the work and find an unsuspecting neighbor to walk over to and chat.  Such was the case last weekend.

My wife and I live in a wonderfully friendly block of Tazewell and striking up a conversation is never a challenge.  But I realized this weekend when our conversation with our neighbors had ended and we went back to working in our respective yards, that there is such a more visceral need for such conversations than we might realize.  As much as we may like gardening and the results it yields, we also like to commune.  Commune, of course, is the root of the word, community. [Read more…]