Friday, March 2, 2012

What Happens in Garden Club, Stays in Garden Club

There is a fine line between trust and stupidity.

Stick with me, there’s a point. It’s more about gardening and philosophy than true creativity, but still there’s a point.

Being the first Friday of the month, that means Clubs Day at the elementary school and I am in charge of the Garden Club. Eleven little girls show up each month, eager to help and learn. I must say they are a fantastic group of kids. They are curious, engaged, adventurous and creative.

Today it was warm enough to go out to the garden, clean out some older plants and prep for the new veggies. The sugar-snap peas had grown so well that there were about 15 ripe, sweet pods waiting to be picked and eaten. The girls gathered around and did just that. There were nine girls in club today and they each ate a pea pod.

School garden beds
Next we moved on to the broccoli. Many of the plants had gone to flower but two plants still had edible florets. Again, the kids all picked and ate some on the spot. No hesitation, no grumbling, no “I hate broccoli” from any of them. I had nine girls, ages six to ten, willingly eating fresh veggies. Awesome!

The collards were starting to bolt to flower, so we pulled them as well. I let the girls feel the leaves and see how tough they were compared to lettuce. I explained that collards needed to be torn in small pieces and cooked on low heat for a long time to get tender. Three girls asked if they could take the collards home to cook. Absolutely.

Once we pulled the older plants, the garden beds were pretty messed up. I gave the girls hand rakes to smooth out the soil and pull back the hay mulch. They got started when one of them yelled out.

“Ewww! What is that?”

We gathered around and saw a huge puff of hay and fur she had uncovered. I took the hand rake and gently moved the hay back more.

“AAHHHHHHH! It’s mice!!!”

They all screamed and jumped back. Pretty quickly, I realized it wasn’t mice at all. Some very enterprising mother rabbit had seen our raised beds as the dream home she had been seeking for her babies. Tucked down in a hollow in the garden was a fur-lined, cozy nest of four baby bunnies.
Bunny on left is facing up, bunny on far right is facing down. Two squished in-between
The girls turned quickly from shrieks to coos. The babies were about the size of tennis balls and very sleek and sweet. I let them look long enough to get a good view and I snapped some pictures. Then I used the hand rake to carefully put the fur back and then the hay on top.

We lay one of the lettuce plants back on top since we had effectively eradicated the mother rabbit’s food source. We had such a great talk about how the mother rabbit lines the nest with fur she pulls from her own body, and that keeps the babies warm and cozy.

High-rise nursery with a view of the playground!
We discussed the genius of the mother, who chose her location above the ground, walled in and full of veggies. We then discussed how this would be a Garden Club secret at school and how we needed to keep the other kids from finding the babies and disturbing them. The girls took this role very seriously. I think woe to the kid who disturbs those bunnies on the Garden Club’s watch!

The girls planted onions, potatoes and green beans in areas far from the baby bunnies. I gave them a bag full of flower seed bombs and let them “bomb” the other flower beds around the school. We also checked back in with some bulbs we had previously planted.

We ended Club by discussing how amazing it was that there were rabbits in the garden. It had me thinking that the mother rabbit was either very trusting that the school and kids would keep away predators or seriously naïve to think that a nest three feet from 500 kids was a good idea.

How many times in our own lives are we like the mother rabbit? One of my girls has an acquaintance that has fooled her once, fooled her twice and a third time as well. Yet she continues to go back for more. Despite the fact that this acquaintance has professed her friendship again, I can’t help feeling that heartbreak is on the horizon once more.

Is my child, like the mother rabbit, trusting with instinct and a good heart that everything will be okay? Or is there another upset in the works? I don’t know. I do know that I am glad that my girls are still willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully we live up to the mother rabbit’s expectations as well!

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