Yesterday was the first work bee I have attended at the Rowe Historical Society. Like most small town museums there is a decided lack of space. This is something that creeps up with collections growing year after year.
One storage space had flooding a while back and our task was to remove all of the covering from the basement walls in preparation for painting.
Getting to the walls was a whole different issue.
The group of eight split along gender lines as it always does with the men doing demo on one end of the room and the women sorting and categorizing everything to move into spaces better suited for each item. For me it was a pretty awesome experience and not unlike going through the barn or coop here with decades of stuff collected.
I have to say everyone worked diligently to get to the end of the task but there were many, many light moments surrounding the question “What the heck is this?”.
I daresay this may be an issue with most museums, especially those that are trying to make sense of collections without policy taking place since the sixties. We are not alone. There is so much knowledge in this group that there were maybe 3 items in that room that were left unidentified. That’s pretty cool considering the amount of stuff that was there.
We each have our own strengths. Mine is photography and textiles but having grown up with a nutty,
hoarding collecting father it extends to sawmills, lumber and vintage farm equipment. Old Sturbridge Village taught me the use of household items in 1840 so that helped too.
There is only one member that I knew when I started this a short month ago but I see this as building community within a community. We have a common interest. These bees will continue as well as individuals working on their areas of interest. Trying to bring centuries worth of belongings into the present. Knowing what there is, why it’s there and how best to share it with the community. It always amazes me just a little bit when strangers come together with a common goal and through that friendships are built or made stronger.
My circumstances haven’t allowed me to garden at the house in Enfield at all for almost 2 years. It’s just one of those things I’ve had to let go (to some extent). The gardens all need to be dug up, cleaned up, replanted – not unlike what happened in Rowe last year.
There is a perennial bed as you drive up our driveway into the back yard that is divided down the middle with a chain link fence. More than a dozen years ago my elderly neighbor, Lucille, tended a perennial garden on the other side of the fence. Her gardening style was very similar to mine and we would spend time almost every day working in our gardens and swapping war stories over the fence. We each grew different things but in the summer our gardens melded together into a huge, beautiful space.
A couple of years into our shared garden experience Lucille passed away during the winter. It was a sad time anticipating what spring would mean for a gardener whose other gardening half would be missing. The space was so large I knew that I would just have to let it go. Her daughter was not a gardener. She appreciated the beauty of the garden but did not have the patience or the knowledge to maintain what was there.
That spring, about this time the weeds were running rampant on the other side of the fence but in my garden columbine was blossoming all over the place. I’d never planted them, they’d volunteered. Lucille’s had jumped the fence and decided it was where it wanted to be. We all know this happens in perennial beds, plants seem to move themselves around until they are comfortable where they are.
I was in Enfield this past Tuesday. My perennial bed sort of looks like Lucille’s did the year after her death. Overgrown, saplings of all sorts springing up everywhere. I got out my lopping shears and cut them all down – knee-deep in familiar but overshadowed plants. I piled high the remains of my clippings to be moved to our mulching space, such as it is, next to the barn. I gathered the piles and walked to the mulch pile and was delighted to see Lucille’s columbine blossoming away on the edge of the pile. It’s been over 12 years since Lucille saw her columbine.
I give a lot of things away from my garden, and have over many years. I don’t remember who I’ve given things to. It always seems like an act of desperation finding homes for things that are overgrown but I know to be beautiful. I love the plants in some of my gardens because they remind me of the people I have received them from – today I realized there are people who probably think of me when things bloom. How nice.
I have a large mulch pile where I throw a lot of stuff over the course of the seasons. I usually turn it over a number of times throughout the year with the tractor. This year there were recognizable plants growing in the spring so I just left it.
There are now potatoes in blossom and the biggest squash plant I have ever grown. I think it is actually a long pie pumpkin. There were blossoms in profusion (and still are) earlier in the summer but no fruit. Yesterday I took a closer look and there it was. Looks like a giant zucchini but will ripen off of the vine to a wonderful, orange, thick skinned pumpkin. An excellent keeper and awesome pie pumpkin.
Every year there are volunteers in my garden. This year there were potato plants which I expect since I don’t always get all of the potatoes when I dig them. There are also a couple of tomatoes and sunflowers. It always amazes me that something grows, I till the plot multiple times before it’s planted each year.
It’s the mulch pile stuff that always fascinates me. Things that are rotten and intentionally cast off grow and bloom into something more spectacular than is ever grown in the garden. Maybe next year I’ll just toss my seeds over the bank and hope for the best, it certainly is working this year.