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A census taker came to my door last week. It seemed strange since I had submitted my “count” online. We spoke for a bit and we got around to talking of reviving Spring Hope. I even got an invitation to attend the next city planning committee meeting. What a wonderful surprise from an interruption in my day.
It reminds me that online exchanges simply cannot bring the connections that can occur with an in-person interaction.
I used to play a smartphone game called Plants and Zombies. I had to kill the zombies with things I “grew” in my app yard. I could distract myself for a lot of minutes — even hours — tossing my virtual plants at fake attacks. After weeks of wasting time, I realized that this game wasn’t benefiting me or my family and I deleted the app. Once the app was gone, there was no evidence that I had “labored’ at all.
With Labor Day here and signaling the unofficial end to summer, I was reflecting on what I’m laboring for. I labor for my family, I labor for my community and I labor for keeping my rights and freedoms. Of course, these are labors of love, even when they are more work than I was expecting.
My victory garden is slowly taking shape, but it is definitely a labor of love. In times where American ingenuity seems to be a thing of the past, victory gardens can help us strive for something better. By planting our own fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers, we can all be healthier and happier. We can take in our patch of earth and make something beautiful and useful out of it.
From the dirt in our backyard or even growing inside an apartment, on a porch or high on a balcony, we can plant things that provide beauty and utility. When we succeed, we’ll feel an urge to share the fruits of our labor. We can feed our families and make our neighborhoods healthier — green space has been shown to reduce crime and reduce food insecurity. This “labor” not only makes us happier, but helps us appreciate that we can take a few seeds and improve our environment and provide so much with something that starts so tiny.
By sowing a seed, we act in a symbol of hope. We bury them in dirt, expecting that one day, they will flourish. It is an act of providing for a better tomorrow. One where, like our gardens, we evolve and grow.
Victory gardens started during World War I, where rations had to be saved for the military. At first, it was a patriotic act — a way to relieve government spending. Now, it can be a symbol for self-sufficiency, community and mental well-being.
The beauty of growing things is cyclical. Making your environment beautiful can make you feel appreciation. Appreciation can make you feel responsible to keep your environment beautiful. So, the more beauty we provide for ourselves, the less bitter or entitled we may feel. Instead, we may start feeling grateful and prosperous — and those feelings will manifest themselves with kindness. And any time we can show kindness, we create a better community.
Funny how a kind census taker made me realize, around Labor Day, that I am grateful for my community and prosperous because I have family and friends to share my garden with. I hope this Labor Day that you are feeling grateful and prosperous, too!
DeeAnn Rivera is a Spring Hope resident and garden enthusiast who blogs at www.VictoryGardenGal.com.