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The most important part of our gardens are the people

 This week in the Midwest we have been experiencing terrible spring weather which brings damaging high winds and sometimes tornadoes. I have lived all my life in the midwest of the USA, and tornado watches are part of spring, but the last few years, and maybe it is because of the media it just seems there are more tornados than I remember. The communities affected are devastated by these horrible monsters that tear through a neighborhood in the blink of an eye.


As you look at the photos of an area that a tornado destroyed one will see a row of houses completely levelled and right across the street no damage done to another row of homes. It does give one pause….We can obsess about our landscape, hardscape, lighting, views, size, or where to plant a fruit tree.How many blueberry bushes, how many squash we want to plant this year, however, after looking at the recent photos of Arkansas and Mississippi it is evident what is important in life…people.

Before these devastating tornadoes struck the southern section of our Midwest, I was standing in my garden watching as they took down the last two trees remaining between our four lots. We had destruction in early 2000 that whipped through here and left us without electricity for a week, and downed trees everywhere. Being without electricity drew us out of our homes, people were working together to clean up our individual lots + neighborhoods. It was pitch black at night that week which meant the hum of life’s busyness was nowhere to be found…we all got to know each other again and what mattered were the people around us.It was “us” working together that made things happen. People were what could not be replaced for our gardens, homes + “things” could all be replaced.

 We spend much time in our gardens, but in the end the most important part of our gardens are the people in, around and about our communities.It is during these tragedies one realizes how vulnerable we all are and it is at these times communities show their strength as they work together.

Let us all keep these people in our prayers this week + all  year as they rebuild their homes, neighborhoods + communities from the ground up literally… will not be easy.

 A garden will return each spring and as the garden rebuilds itself, so will these communities….

37 replies »

  1. Perhaps Robbie you have honed in on one of the positive aspects that comes out of disastrous natural events – people working together and breaking down the [modern] barriers of each one on their own little piece of earth and no sharing….. In my country we do not have many tornadoes, certainly none on the scale you folks deal with. But we do have earthquakes that have razed our cities and decimated communities. These things have consequences on the infra-structure that take years to deal with and peoples lives are turned upside down. After a period of time the rest of the country and the world carries on and forgets about their daily struggle. This is when we see the new community that is forged, the support, the caring, the aid both physical and emotional that those living in the rubble offer each other. So many report that their lives are enriched in ways they could never have forseen and often struggle to put into words.

    Your beautiful daffodil pictures are so symbolic of that renewal and sense of hope. Lovely post! xoxo

    • Oh my Pauline, you are so right you have tons of earthquakes. I remember reading about Wendy’s broken china and her pictures from last year. Earthquakes are life changing,too!!!
      As usual, Pauline, no one can say it better than you:-)
      It does take these things to happen for people to realize that the “stupid” things that keep them from helping one another don’t matter in times when we all lose everything….being vulnerable does change us + if people come out of an experience and “learn about what is important in life…well, you are right they often will “struggle to put into words” how it changed them..and then there are others that will never change even if they are mowed down by a big truck or shaken by Godzilla!
      Now that you mention it, the daffodils “do”bring a sense of “hope” that things will get better every spring after a LONG winter!

  2. Robbie, thank you for sharing such lovely photos and an important discussion about what really matters — caring about others and reaching out to our community, both near and far.

  3. Robbie – Sorry about the loss of the two last trees. So glad you and your neighbors worked together to clean up the storm damage. Interesting how we quickly rediscover community when forced to unplug.

    • Hi Candace:-) Well, the two neighbors behind me lost every tree on their property. We have an old silver maple that is between the corner of a side yard + she is the last one standing between 4 lots, but she is grand. The older lady behind us is in her 80’s and after the storm I could not find her in her backyard, but heard her voice. the beautiful tree fell on her entire backyard, and missed her house! They sawed off most of the storm damaged trees originally , so that was not the thing to do since it kills trees eventually. I hope they plant a “few” new trees some day, but if they don’t that is okay. I was thinking about that the other day as I watched them take these old + very tall damaged trees down. I felt sad about the trees, but glad we did not lose any people like the people this last week that died. You are so right “unplug” and community is humming again:-)

  4. I love this post, Robbie. Such a reminder of how people come together in times of disaster. Back in the 80’s we had never ending ice storms that destroyed so many trees and left us without power. We learned to be resourceful, for sure! And Mt St. Helen’s blowing her top covered us with ash for what felt like years! (The strawberries always had a bit of grit in every bite!) The the beauty of it all was seeing the neighbors come together to help one another. Your pictures are so beautiful!

    • Mandy you are so right “people come together in times of disaster” and that is when we really find out what life is all about:-) The camera is a reflection of the beauty around us + what a great invention since it “tweaks” our hearts to remind us to stop and smell the flowers:-)

  5. Thanks for a great post Robbie. Our gardens help us and our communities feel connected to the earth and to each other. Love to you from Jenna 😉

  6. We saw news footage here, on the other side of the world, about the devastation. You are right in saying that it’s community that makes the difference. It’s a linked sense of kinship that allows us to work together, play together to exist together. Moreso in cities where everyone is that much closer together. Gardens are just artificial groupings of plants that might otherwise not grow where they are planted. They can be garnered, gleaned and re-grown again, gardeners are the most generous of people and will always share something that they have with someone else. Growing community is like growing gardens, sometimes it is fraught with pests but at the end of the day, there is a still quiet stoic and soulful beauty about playing your part in the scheme of things.

    • “Growing community is like growing gardens, sometimes it is fraught with pests but at the end of the day, there is a still quiet stoic and soulful beauty about playing your part in the scheme of things.”

      oh my goodness you have such a gift with words:-)My mother always told me Gardeners are “giving” people. I have never met a gardener that was not a giving person, I am sure they are out there , but I have been spared in meeting them-lol. True about them being artificially grouped, but our neighborhoods are random + that is a challenge, but in the end learning to work with different types of people is inspiring! We can work together:-)

  7. A lovely post Robbie. We have been watching them here also and commenting we can’t ever remember seeing so much news of tornadoes in the past as there has been in the last two years. They must be absolutely terrifying and the destruction they leave….well, just awful 😦 You are so right, it is the people that matter and in times like this you are made aware of what is important in life, and what is not. It takes years to recover and after all that trauma there’s just an awful lot of stress while people try to rebuild their lives while others have forgotten all about it and move on. Very sad.

    • So true Wendy. If you notice it and you are not even living in the USA it must be happening more often than I remember, too. It also seems they don’t get a break from these tornados down in “tornado alley”. We live on the edge of tornado valley which is a bit more south than us, but close enough that they do occur here,too. I remember you last year with all your earth quakes, that is scary also!!! When you told me how many you had last year, I was stunned! Hope you are enjoying a bit more quiet in your fall/winter over there in NZ:-)

      • There are terrible weather patterns and quakes all over the planet and IF it’s a symptom of the damage man is doing to the planet…well, maybe we are in for a very difficult future 😦

        We are fine now, only having maybe one wee one a week and that’s a good thing! Stay safe Robbie.

  8. I have read about the terrible storms and tornadoes over there and felt for the people suffering them. Apart from the devastation and damage, it must be terrifying. The climate is getting more turbulent all over the world.
    I love your spring photos of the lovely daffs. Your pictures are always a treat.

    • I do hope these weather troubles all over the globe slow down soon…they are very discouraging at times, but there is something about a spring daffodil reaching for the sky + blooming in a garden that ‘inspires + gives one “hope” each spring. It means a future and things will be brighter after such a long harsh winter….:-) It has been gloomy the past few weeks, so to capture some pictures to give you a “treat” is a pleasure on my part + I look forward to a beautiful summer with many blooms and no snow!!!

  9. Thoughts & prayers to everyone in the path of extreme weather (or earthquakes) this year! We are all on this planet together & we *care*. Thx for sharing your words of compassion & support!!!

    • You are so right, we are all here together even if we live far away…people are in our thoughts and prayers always…:-)

  10. Read the comments of Pauline… we have both here in Japan: earthquakes and typhoons, which have as much destructive capacity as tornadoes… wait, in fact Japan does have tornadoes, occasionally… 😦
    Anyway, thank you for the reminder about the importance of linking up with folks around us… have a good day, Robbie…

    • oh my goodness Lrong, typoons are awful! Nature can be destructive + it is at those time we really pull together. You have tornadoes too! That is a triple of bad weather monsters in my opinion!!! You have a good day,too Lrong…keep safe this spring:-)

  11. Oh, I remember those tornadoes! As a little girl growing up in WI I remember my neighbor’s roof was peeled off like a can of sardines. I remember standing in their kitchen and looking up to the sky! It was scary. Here, they say we don’t have tornadoes so they call them microbursts and I think it was just last April 2013 one twisted up and spit out my arbor and tossed the canoe across the lawn. I rebuilt the arbor and you know what? It is now stronger and rooted to the ground by trumpet vine.

    • Interesting I have never heard of microbursts?I sure hope it is a bit more quiet for everyone as we head towards summer:-I have a trumpet vine arbor, and it really does grab those arbors down!

  12. What a nice post Robbie. You’re so right. Without people around us to share life with it’d be a sad situation. We can replace things as you say, and even our gardens will regenerate, but people are the ones who make it all worthwhile and are irreplaceable. I treasure all the kind people I’ve met here on this blog site, and you in particular, and am grateful for all the other good folks in my life. I wouldn’t know what to do without them.
    Thank you for writing this. 🙂

    • You are so right about all the nice people we meet on our blogs:-) They make life special ,too. We write about our gardens + then we visit each other in their gardens over the cyber fence. I find the people I meet through blogging to be just as specail:-) In fact, sometimes we get to know each other better since we really have no expectations:-)

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