Thank you to the helpful hands who brightened up my life… And my garden!

Thank you to the helpful hands who brightened up my life… And my garden!

VivaVillage understands that aging is a team sport

It is the loveliest day so far this year! My husband proclaims it so. We sit alone in the sun in our little courtyard – by the orders of the Governor and the President.

I spy a weed in the nearby flower bed and jump up to deal with it. Fortunately, the innovative long pole with a sharp, round cutter is handy, leaning against our 10-foot white privacy fence nearby. This instrument was designed, built, and gifted to us, last summer by a tall, lanky Viva Village volunteer who came by to obliterate a forest of fireweed that had grown up in our little space of Oregon dirt and flowers. No longer do I have to painfully get down on my hands and knees and crawl behind rhodies, azaleas, and rose bushes to get at the latest crop of fireweeds – nor ask for a volunteer. I just coolly snatch them out of existence. As I think of the day he made it and brought it by, after his hard work of volunteering the day before, it is like he is back here with us. I exclaim, “You could patent this and make a lot of money!” With his distinctive smile, he demurs. “The secret is to get the weeds before they get a start, when they first come up.” And with this sage advice, he’s off.

I eye my lemon cypress trees in their pots and go get a stiff broom to try to sweep off the winter’s accumulation of dirt on the sides. And, again, a Viva Village volunteer is right here with me, the one who came by and dug the tiny trees out of the mud and helped transplant them into pots a year ago. But, alas, she is only a vivid memory. I want to ask, “What do I do now? Get bigger pots? With rolling stands? Fertilize them? Has our mild winter given them enough moisture?” I console myself that soon perhaps this tiny, knowledgeable woman can come again, in person, not memory, to answer my questions, and give me the expertise I need – and lend her strong, helping hands.

Now I become aware of the winter’s accumulation of grime and moss on the concrete at my feet. The youngish retiree Viva Village volunteer who brought his pressure washer and laboriously cleaned it last year springs into appearance! I can’t recall his name or face like I do the others but his concentration while he worked – and the results, are very real in my memory. I wonder if he will he come again to make it clean and sparkling.

Other volunteers spring to mind, surprising me: the laughing women who came to wash these big sliding glass doors, the strong man who spaded up the hard clay soil, working in the compost – and the sober-faced one who pruned the azaleas when they finished blooming.

Here we sit, seemingly alone. The spring sun feels so good! Who would guess that this little space has been peopled with all these volunteers passing through, if only in memory, now! Do those volunteers, snug in their own courtyards and houses, know how thankful I am for them – or guess at all the work I’m planning for them, come summer when we are all free again?

Bertha Lavell Kramlich is thankful for all the VivaVillage volunteers who helped her with her garden. With her husband (Alvin) of 60 years, they look forward to meeting more volunteers this summer.

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