Last Saturday, I made sure I was punctual in meeting Bob at the community gardens. This was part of the picture of my new life—growing veggies and canning again, so I wanted everything to work out perfectly.

Bob wasn’t there. He was sick. Carl met me there. I had my $20 for my 20’ x 20’ garden plot. He had the list of the ones available. He also had the map.

Number 227 is available.

Bob had told me during our phone conversation that it’s important to get one near water, because he said that some are far from the spigots.

We walk through a crazy quilt maze of aisles and fencing, some framing the chaotic giving up in the Fall of 2013 and others holding the newly turned promise of Spring 2014.

Parts of numbers; faded numbers written in pencil on plywood. 473 next to 104 on the map; 181 next to 222 in real life. Each garden has a haphazardly-placed storm door as its entrance. Most plots have chicken wire fencing in varying stages of rusting between metal and wooden poles of any-old heights. A few of the fences are uniform, home-quality, and showing off.

Carl is apologizing for things not being organized enough. I’m loving it!

Someone pulls up on a bike. I think it’s a teenage boy, offering to help. As he comes closer, I see a 70-something-year-old guy. Will gardening keep me young?

None of these numbers make sense, Carl tells him. I’m making her walk all over the place.

I love to walk, I say. This is fun.

The bike guy knows where 227 is. He also knows where the 20 by 40 that can be divided is. It’s by 386.

We get to the plot that will be subdivided. Its distance from the water is not good.

We find 227. Another long winding path to water.

Ralph joins us. He tells them why he’s pissed at one of the garden officers. No name, but they all know who. You know what would really get back at the guy he’s mad at? Giving me Plot 470!

Yeah! Let’s do it, they all agree.

Wait, I don’t want to get into a controversy.

Don’t worry– it won’t be your responsibility.

No! I don’t want to tick anyone off! I’m the new person.

Don’t worry.

I worry.

But when all was said and done, there was plot 491, which had been given up freely by its former tenant. A plot to be subdivided. A foot from the water source, right next to the main entrance road. I can back my truck up right next to it to haul off the weeds and debris, a project that I started the next day.

The front chicken wire fence needs to be replaced. Between YouTube, Lowes associates, and everybody I know, I’ll get what I need to know about mending literal fences. I’m going to order a Mantis tiller, which I will also use for weeding during the summer. I found out where the dump is and am headed there today to get the sticker for my truck so that I can clear all the junk (old metal tomato cages, rusty pieces of chicken wire fencing, etc.) away from my soon-to-be 20 by 20 piece of Eden.

This $1 a square foot treasure is the kind of thing that people twenty years hence will talk about:

Remember when the community gardens looked all ghetto and went for 20 bucks a year before (Insert a serious-sounding company name here.) took them over? I’m surprised nobody ever got sued with all that rusty chicken wire. And that nobody’s stuff ever got stolen, either. I kind of miss the messy way the gardens used to be. I think the tomatoes tasted better then, or maybe the happy memories make it seem that way.

I see the happy now.

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