Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer on Marshfield Avenue

Well, the other day four or five kids were on the front step and we were talking.

"I might not be as much fun this summer as I was last summer," I warned them.

"Because of the baby?" Alicia asked.


One thing I think I'm good for is a weekly field trip to the Growing Home urban farm at 58th and Wood. I got a discounted share of vegetables for the summer on condition I share it with the neighbors. So far Su Casa got the kale and lettuce the first week, the Bradys got the strawberries last week, and Junior's mom got carrots, zucchini and lettuce this week. A lot of the early vegetables, like kale and asparagus, are unfamiliar to the Mexican moms on the blook. I tried to give Ines's mom the pick of the box the first week, but she said, "I don't know how to cook them," and it's a bit difficult to teach cooking unless we're going to actually sit down in the kitchen and do it together, which I didn't really have time to do. When the tomatoes and more squash come in it will be easier to share.

Last week with the car out of commission I was lucky to get West Town Bikes to deliver the box to my house on short notice. Some of the girls got to meet the two young women who stopped by with it along their bike delivery route.

Now that the car is back in action, I piled two Brady Girls and Peter Pan's two sisters in the car yesterday for the trip.

"It's fresh in here," said Mary Brady on entering the car. "My dad's car is hot!" (By the way, "fresh" is a literal translation of Spanish fresco/a, which would really be "cool" in standard English, but I hear it so often I know what it means now.)

"It's only because it was parked in the shade," I told her.

When we were about a block north of the farm, we ran into a couple dozen kids in the middle of the street with an open fire hydrant. I drove through them very slowly. One boy had a big plastic box full of water. He looked like he was thinking about throwing it at the car.

"Don't even..." said Peter Pan's big sister. (The windows were shut; he couldn't hear her.)

I wouldn't really have minded if he had, but he didn't. They all ran off to carry some girl into the hydrant's spray.

"That's hard when they hold you in there," Peter Pan's big sister said.

We parked, got the box, then waded across a giant puddle to go see how the veggies were growing in the hoop houses. It was so hot they had the plastic walls rolled up to let the heat out. Mary noticed the three compost bins across from the hoop houses. "Is that like your composter?" she asked.

"Well, these are a lot better maintained," I said. "And look, there's a thermometer in one of them. Let's see what it says." It read 100 degrees, which was probably not more than 10 degrees above the air temperature, but that's a lot hotter than the temperature in my compost pile. We had a little discussion about that.

Then we got to their favorite part--going up the viaduct. "We can go farther today, because I feel good and I'm not in a hurry," I told them.

The girls chased butterflies and looked for other bugs and interesting things buried in the long grass as we walked eastward across Wood. It was so hot I don't think we quite even made it to the next block. "Do you guys want to go to the lake?" I asked them.

"Yeah!" So we walked back, eased our way back down the steep slope by the hoop houses, got in the call and called their moms to make sure it was OK. It was. So we went to 31st Street Beach. The only hard part was that the parking lot was very full. We drove through all the teeny lots and I let them get out at then end and go walk in the park while I kept looking for a space. "Do not go near the water until I join you," I warned them. "BUt you can stick your feet in the shower or play on the playground."

I got almost all the way back to the 31st Street entrance when someone pulled out of a handicapped space. I swear I have never parked in a handicapped space before in my entire life, but I knew we weren't staying very long and I was desperate to get out of the car and go find the girls. They were walking along the stone pathway next to the lake when they saw me and came running. We went to the bathroom and then out to the lake. They had a grand old time splashing each other and looking for shells and pretty rocks in the lake bottom along the edge. Nobody went out past their knees and we all kept a close eye on Peter Pan's baby sister. "You can't drown or Mom will kill me," her big sister told her.

I kept a close eye on the time and hauled them out after 10 minutes or so. It took us another ten minutes to get the sand off everybody's feet and walk back to the car. Just as we arrived, a cop was walking around my car looking for the handicapped tag. "I'm leaving right now, sir!" I called. "I'm pregnant and I just had to stop to pick up the girls."

"You're lucky," the cop told me. Whew!

The girls agreed with me that Brady Bughunter should come next week since he will have such a good time looking for bugs on the viaduct.

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