Four girls went with me yesterday to the Growing Home garden at 58th and Wood. We met the guy who manages the garden there, Tyler, and he gave the girls and me a tour of the hoop houses--big greenhouses on frames with a double layer of plastic sheeting for insulation. Tyler showed us how the Growing Home hoop houses have a ventilation system that sucks the warm air out from between the plastic sheets and fans it through the greenhouse to keep plants warm when it is cold. When it gets hot, there are vents that open automatically to let the warm air out.
They are growing kale and collard greens, salad lettuces, spinach, cucumbers, herbs, carrots, and just starting basil and tomatoes. Through a snafu, we ended up not getting my box at the site--my friend Larry who lives on their farm outside Chicago brought it over to my house later--but the box had spinach, kale, beets, dill, asparagus, romaine, scallions. It turns out my next door neighbor to the south was hoping to get beets, so I gave her some of mine to take home to her mom. Dawn's mom and School Lady split the spinach kale and romaine, among other things. I kept the rest of the beets and the asparagus, among other things.
For two of the girls, the best thing about the field trip was that I let them climb the hill up the viaduct next to the garden. (Two girls had flip-flops on and I wouldn't let them go for fear of prickers, poison ivy, etc.) I had some reservations about doing this, given that the viaduct in my neighborhood gets used as a sniper's seat with some regularity, but it was so nice and there was a clear patch over the bridge so I figured we could see anyone coming. Plus Tyler and his mom were around.
I remember how much I liked going to the stand of pine trees in a patch of undeveloped woods near my house when I was a kid. Years later, my mom told me her heart was in her mouth every time she let me go in the woods by myself when I was about 10. But going there gave me some of the best memories of my childhood. So I had all that in mind when I told the girls they could go up. We had a second crack at it later (a friend called me for help with a writing project and agreed to pick us all up and save us the walk home), so I went up with them and the other two stayed with Tyler. Then they got to chase dragonflies across the bridge and look at the view and watch the seagull that flew by, etc.
When we got home, I asked them what was the best part of the trip and Oldest Brady Girl said, "Going on top of the viaduct!"
Later, some of the younger kids and I played frisbee (faux frisbee, from the dollar store, but it works), picked mulberries, read half of a book about cooking Venezuelan sancocho, and watched a very impressive home-grown fireworks display we could see going off east of Ashland. They were setting off such colorful fireworks even I wanted to watch.
This afternoon I have to bow out of Camp Marshfield and work--I left a book from Smithsonian Press about spiders in my mailbox for the young animal lovers, but that's it for today.
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