Leaning on the shovel, the nanny planned her trip to Starved Rock State Park with the geologist.
The nanny, Ellen by name, listed off a slate of plants and animals she wanted to see, the only one of which I remember now is skunk cabbage.
“I want to see vultures,” Asa the geologist said.
Ellen wrinkled her nose at him.
Asa looked around the patch of green among the rows of homes in Chicago’s Logan Square.
“Nothing soars here,” he said.
I kept hammering on the frozen dirt.
March 23 was the first work day of the 2013 season at the Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm, the community garden where I volunteer.
It would be a story either way, a dozen or two city dwellers coming out to play in the dirt, hammering at frozen soil with shovels, trowels, a pickaxe or, in my case, a rock hammer Asa the geologist was kind enough to bring along. (Me: “Is that a rock hammer?” Asa, excited: “Yes! How do you know about that?” Me, sheepish: “‘The Shawshank Redemption.’”)
We hammered in the dirt to plant poles and rods, the trellises soon to be laden with veggies for the Christopher House center for at-risk children. We played with the mud once the sun turned the icy chunks we upheaved ever so slightly back into soil.
We, adults all, called out “Centipede!” “Worm!” and the other critters our digging turned up so the other grown-up cityites could rush over to see.
Ellen would name them.
It would be a story either way, but I’ve got an agenda today. Or more appropriately tonight.
At 7 p.m. tonight, March 27, at the Whirlaway Lounge, 3224 W. Fullerton Ave., a bar that itself also would be a story, the Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm is having a fundraiser.
A $10 suggested donation will get you a raffle ticket for gift certificates donated by local and locally owned Logan Square businesses (and also one fine-ass bottle of booze, I’m led to believe). Want better odds? It’s $5 for six additional tickets after that. The raffle’s at 10 p.m.
Your donation will support, fearless leader Margaret says, “our community compost center, donations to our neighborhood food pantry at Christopher House and Humboldt Park Social Services, public art installations at the farm and our continuing efforts to educate the community about organic gardening on a budget!”
Your beer money will support the Whirlaway and Maria, the sweetest and best bartender in Chicago. She hugs people she knows. She knows everybody.
Laugh and drink and revel and enjoy. Support something that makes Chicago a little greener, that helps low-income parents make their children’s plates a little healthier.
Go because the garden volunteers are a bunch of hot chicks who eat healthy and strapping dudes who heft pickaxes and haul dirt. And they’ll be drinking.
Chicago’s a place where nothing soars and where adults consider a brush with Stanley the Centipede and Ernie Worm a wildlife experience. But I’ve got money and an IGO account. I can run off to see the green at Starved Rock or anywhere else any time I want.
A lot of people can’t. The Corner Farm just tries to put a little bit of green on a lot in Logan Square and on an at-risk child’s plate.
Isn’t that worth raising a glass to?