Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Know Why the Caged Gardener Sings

I was dressed well, having come from a party, and over at the community garden at dusk on Tuesday night. In my classy sandals and with dangle pearl drop earrings, I was filling up my watering can at the cistern and making trips back to my plot to douse my plants.

As the evening light faded, I was feeling smug and content at my work in creating a vegetable garden in an urban space. We plotters had just gathered for a potluck and shared our stories. I had met most of my plot neighbors and liked them well. This was going to be good.

Another gardener finished her watering and waved goodbye. Realizing I was going to be alone, I asked her to lock up as she left, and then I would follow right behind her.

The last drops of water trickled from my can and now it was dark.
Mosquitoes nipping at my ankles were my first clue that it was time to go. So I grabbed my keys and my sweater and headed back to my car. That's when I realized I might be in trouble. The chain was pulled tight and fastened on the other side of the gate with the combination lock. The other gardener had done just what I'd asked her to do. I was locked in.

Slightly panicked, I slapped my empty hip pockets, knowing full well, I'd left my cell phone in the car. I reached through the fence and tried to angle the combination lock so that I could see it, but darkness and aged eyes were conspiring to make me a captive. I ran to the other gate only to gaze up at the other lock, just out of reach. Back to the main gate, I tried over and over again to get the numbers to line up, but I couldn't make out the notch to see if I was within target. Desperately, I searched the perimeters of the fence for a passing friendly pedestrian. Nada. Even the neighboring park inhabitants (the ones that I feared in the first place, I might

add) had departed.

A car filled with four middle-aged men, their hairy arms perched on open windows, cruised American Graffiti style down Fenton. My saviors, I thought, I ran to the fence to beckon them. Glad that I was dressed well and not shvitzing like a shmendrek, as I usually am after working in the garden.

"Oh car full of aged men, . . .Help me," I called from behind the fence, adding a piercing yelp for emphasis on the "Help!" Wrong approach. The startled bald ones retracted their arms inside their car as it sped around the corner and out of site. Next a tattooed, thin hipster strolled by. I'm old-school. Tats symbolize nefarious ne'er-do-wells. Besides, I was going to have to reveal the secret lock combination to him and he didn't seem the secret-keeping sort. Across the intersection, I spotted a guy on a bike.

"Oh, biker guy," I called. He looked nervously over his shoulder and pedaled away. I began to realize that from behind black prison wires, even a well-dressed gardener seems threatening. A voice calling out from a darkened lot. They all feared what I feared when I asked my friend to lock me in. The mosquitoes thickened along with my worry. Would my husband realize where I was? I hadn't told him.

The story ends well. A nice jogging couple came by and released me from my cage. I profusely apologize for my stupidity. We laughed nervously and introduced ourselves. I got in my car and drove home. Jim was watching the ballgame. Would you have come looking for me in the garden, if I hadn't come home tonight? Nope, he said, I would have figured you were still at the party having fun. The Putterer

1 comment:

  1. Nice one! I like how you emphasized the contrast between the safety and trust inside the "community plot" against the malevolence and mistrust outside of it. What a world! Keep striving to create spaces of peace in a hostile world.