Thursday, May 26, 2011
I Know Why the Caged Gardener Sings
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.
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
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