Bye bye, Brussels.

Four “trees” in a row.

I saw the harlequin beetles starting months ago. An abandoned plot there with an overgrown radish. Another ignored plot that way with some once-beautiful brassica. I sprayed them with the hose.

They didn’t bat an eye. Or a wing, either, seeing as I’m not sure if they have eyelids.

They multiplied.

Eventually the left-alone plots were cleared out or cleaned up. Eventually the beetles were repeatedly carried with the best of delayed intentions to the compost box.

Eventually they went looking for fresher, living, brassicas.

Like my kale. I didn’t count the squirts and squishes today as I ended each beetle‘s attempted relocation plan. I did count the bucketfuls of kale lost to them (2.)

I took these Brussels home and we processed them in the front yard. I’m not sure how far they can fly in search of food, or how many stowaways I had left after the clear and present danger of my thumbs, but processing the trees in the front yard at least gave my back yard a chance to avoid transference.

Until next year, Harlequin. Or perhaps you don’t populate where I’ll be in a year’s time and whatever I’ve encountered will make me miss you. As you are, at least, kind enough to be easily spotted.

A few hundred shy.

A quick visit to the garden for greens and rabbit-proof-fence checks with the kids.

A silent passerby in work boots and community shirt.

A dirt pile mountain to climb and a successfully stable barrier.

A friendly, yet reserved, hello.

“If you like onions, I pulled a ton out of a bed I was clearing for a new owner. They’re in the bin.”

– We have a good number already but I won’t argue with more onions.

“They’re right here. These will grow, right? They look like the dried up ones you can buy at (big box store) and they aren’t dry. They’ll be ok for people how I laid them out?”

– *inhales deeply, enjoying fresh onion green smells* They will grow just fine. They might not bulb, or they might, but they’re definitely happy to be green onions.

“Ok, good! I already put some in the plot by the workshop but there were just so many I didn’t want to go to waste so I laid them out nicely, a whole wheel barrow full!, so others could gather as they wanted.”

– They look great and are easy to retrieve and use – thank you for telling me and taking care of them.

After I picked out a few bundles for me, my in-laws, and a friend, and two days passed, I took a picture of how many were still left.

I also saved some chard because beautiful deliciousness.

I’m familiar with foraging but this was my first encounter with foraging plants from a compost heap.

I’m currently reading Closing the Food Gap and it’s lighting new fires while dousing others. I keep interrupting my husband’s quiet to read aloud an outrageous statistic here or a shocking history there. Education is not always comfortable.

Twice so far, it’s mentioned that in community garden the most important word is community. I’ve stewed on this a bit. I didn’t join a community garden this round for the community. I joined for the soil to soothe my soul.

When I’d joined in 2012 (same community garden, different plots), I had joined for both the community and the garden. I’d been chastised, looked down upon, and otherwise made to feel wholly unwelcome and less-than during that experience with the community part of the community garden.

So this time, I signed up hoping to garden in peace, quiet, and solitude.

I’ve met more neighboring gardeners in the last six weeks than the entire year I was here last time. Each has been friendly, kind, and generally also hoping to part ways shortly for their own peace and solitude.

Yesterday, I spotted this “Hi” left on the far side of the path between my garden and a neighbor’s I’ve yet to meet. It is one of the main paths in and out of the walled garden. A butterfly had alit beside it.

Yes. I hear you. Community gardening, indeed. (I added an ! before heading home for the day, lacking sufficient supplies for a suitable reply.)

I think he remembered.

It’s been ages since he’s been. Five years, perhaps? Half his life.

He saw my grubby shoes go by the door.

Wag.

I put on sunscreen.

Dance.

I grabbed my keys.

Whine. Whine.

I picked up the leash.

Loaded in the car, he quieted. Tongue lolling. Bracing corners. Toppling.

Just before the driveway to the parking lot.

Whinewhinewhinewhine.

Pranceprance.

I know, buddy, me, too.

Any guesses on this volunteer?