Luke is one of the gardeners at the Brunswick Street Community Garden. I pass by all the time and there’s an even an occasional blog post, a picture through the fence with a (hopefully) witty and/or insightful caption. Seems though I’ve never been by while there were people there.
On Saturday I walked by and the gate was opened and Luke was busy cleaning up a flower bed outside the fence, beautifying the space between the sidewalk and the fence. He was getting ready for the year’s first blooms; spring flowers, such as crocuses and daffodils.
Friday was a snow storm – windy, wet – cold wintery mix –drearily annoying. Saturday though here comes the sun, rapidly melting the snow; no need for the scarf or gloves. Why zipper up the jacket?
Early Spring. Luke is out getting the garden ready. His home is one of the ones adjacent to the community lot. It might still be too early for most planting, even to begin serious tilling but there is some gardening activity to be done. Technically, it’s the first gardening suitable day of the year.
The garden abuts the embankment. Ivory spreads up the stone wall of this vestige of America’s glorious Rail Road past. Cats make the garden their home. Some are semi-feral, others just local housecats whose owners grant them outdoor roaming privileges. Somebody feeds the cats every day. A large white cat sits on one of the hutches; others are nearby, secluded in sparse branches. They survey their territory, striking fear in the hearts of the Brunswick Street rodent population.
Jersey City dirt is filled with lead, a legacy of our industrial past and system of potical bribery. This garden is mainly for flowers; vegetables are grown in above ground planters. Lots are assigned to neighborhood residents, there’s a waiting list. The popularity of the impulse to grow something seems unabated.
Except for boughs ripped from a tree, there was little Sandy damage. The sign was knocked off the fence. Flooding hit this neighborhood hard. It’s the Downtown lowlands after all. No basement was immune, but the period of ultra sogginess had little impact on Brunswick soil. Luke says he’s seen worse damage from other storms. Dried, dead flatten vegetation and brush and the various bits of debris scattered around the patches of snow indicates that the garden seems untouched since October. Sandy came at the end of the harvest, certainly followed the life cycle of the flowers and bushes of Brunswick Street Community Garden. During the summer, there’s so much life here. What’s left behind, emerging as winter wanes, reminds us of seasons yet to come
A taste of spring, amidst the remains of last year, Luke the gardener sees what can be planted. New life is contained in the dirt beneath the decay. We have to wait to see what will bloom but hope is always here right now.