What does abundance mean to you?
What does an urban landscape filled with abundance look like?
Patty Page says:
Abundance is a gift given to us. Gratitude, appreciation for that abundance, is a gift we
give ourselves. I practice Gratitude by keeping a daily list. I’ve been surprised that the
gratitude that wells up in me most readily is for food.
There were farmers and good cooks in my extended family on both sides. So
memories of growing, preparing and savoring delicious food fill my mind and my
recipe box, capturing years of abundance in my urban/suburban life, from childhood to
Whether we were living in town or in the country, my father usually kept the biggest
garden he could fit in the backyard. I tended my own 4-H garden when I was thirteen.
But I didn’t touch another seed packet for decades. Then, my new mother-in-law Rhoda
reminded me of the blessing of growing one’s own. In the rich, loamy soil behind her
house on Y Street, she grew plentiful cucumbers, green beans, Jerusalem artichokes
Veggies in the front yard were taboo then, though I do recall the cherry tree in front of
one home, apple trees lining the driveway of another, the peach tree in the front corner
of my own first house. But times are changing. I believe that “urban abundance” is
finding expression now with humble but life-sustaining plants finding their way to the
We’ve started keeping a cherry tomato near our front door, marked with an invitation
to “Help yourself!” When I’m coming or going, I pluck a few from the vine, cool and
bright-flavored in the morning, warm and sweet in the sunny afternoon. It’s good feng
shui, I’ve read, to welcome visitors with something edible on their way to your front door.
Every midsummer, we harvest blueberries from our front yard. I delight in sharing some
from the streetside bush with Sallie, when she’s walking her dog Lizzie. I’m not quite as
delighted sharing them with the birds, who take a peck and leave the berry to wither.
But an indispensable characteristic of urban abundance is restoring at least in some
small measure the wildlife habitat that we humans have commandeered for ourselves.
It’s easier to welcome the bumble bees buzzing on the madronas, the mason bees
quietly pollenating the apple trees, the honeybees going about their business. I enjoy
watching the lithe doe and her obstreperous fawns who browse our yard - until I notice
they’ve taken more than their fair share, by my accounting! I enjoy NOT AT ALL the
moles and slugs that take up residence here. I believe - but don’t always accept - that
all these creatures have their particular place in the interdependent web of all existence.
It takes a lot of prodding to remember that, when I see the red twig dogwoods’ new
growth - gone! -, the tulips topped, the marigolds munched and the lettuce nibbled to
nubbins. Even so, I know we are all vital to one another.
We’ve been watching Kirk and Allison’s garden taking shape on the corner at the top of
the hill for three years. It has raised beds and elegant trellis work, lots of mulch and lots
of dreams. We trade - some of our rhubarb for some of their cardoon. Life is good. Even
though Kirk added high net fencing this year. Oh dear, oh deer.
Don and Sallie’s black and copper trellis sits in a raised bed a few steps from our
mailbox. I was green with envy when the enormous tomatoes that hung from the vines
turned a savory red-orange, set off by creamy yellow dahlias. They shared until our crop
Two years’ running, Ben and Lelea’s prolific strawberry plants outgrew their allotted
space, begging for their babies to be foster-parented up and down the street.
Urban chicken have expanded the city farmers’ repertoire. I have enjoyed the sunshine
yellow omelets I’ve made with eggs from my neighbor Michael’s flock, or from the happy
hens who are blessed to live and work at the Golden Angel Chicken Ranch under the
care of my friend Marilyn in downtown Washougal.
Walking or driving around town, I see front yards cleared of their turf monoculture and
teaming with a variety of annuals and perennials: colorful, edible or both. Plus the
shrubs and trees that provide structure through bleak winters - and sometimes homes
or take-out lunch for birds and squirrels. The taboo is broken. I think think front yard
food represents an abundant future of living interdependently and joyfully with our all
neighbors, human and otherwise.
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