December - Patty Page

posted Mar 1, 2012, 12:44 PM by Rob Pollock
Urban Abundance:

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

and more.


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

front yard.


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.