The very hungry caterpillar (PG-13 version)

We expected the 90 degree temperatures today and we expected a lot of "johnson grass" to pull and we expected a bunch of mulch to move. But we hardly expected Sarah to have a tiny green caterpillar repeatedly crawling up her leg at lightning speed.

Unfortunately, we were all too busy laughing at her screams of "it's violating me" to get a picture.

We did ultimately kick some ass in the weeding department. "Jamie" and "Gracie" hauled buckets o' mulch while Jerome, Sarah, and Tyler cleared the way for placing it. I stood around with my hands on my hips and watched the trees grow!

Natalia tended to dead heading the lanceleaf coreopsis then proceeded to tie back bundles of sunflowers - all this with a strained muscle in her back. "Dedication" was the word du jour. We worked fast and hard as the temps climbed and when Audrey's mom showed with a basket of delicious cold grapes we were eternally grateful.

With the exception of Sarah's entomological molestation, all went well at the
garden today. The sawtooth sunflowers are starting to bloom, as are the stalks of wild bergamot. Josh's red maple continues "leafing out" and really likes its new home (thank you, Anna!). The purple coneflowers are attracting our favorite yellow gold finches and I am sure in the grand scheme of things, the neon green caterpillar that was so hungry for Sarah's leg was really hoping for a taste of swamp milkweed (and hiding from predators in the bright leaves).

The garden is truly glorious - I wish you could see it. <3

My face is redder than your face :P

It was a balmy day at the Dunbar Garden and certainly filled with pink cheeks. Many among us had been on vacations and thus the sunscreen was readily passed around. Fortunately for us, Sarah's Saturday hiatus came to an end with her acceptance of a promotion (for the job she had originally applied for but was carelessly/stupidly overlooked) so our core "dream team" is intact again.

Beth and her adorable (sorry David but it's the truth) younger brother started the pink-fest having freshly returned from ventures in California. Jazz did NOT change her ponytail color this week and Tyler laughed heartily at Sarah's old movie joke. Natalia looked more evenly sunned then
the rest of us but advised the bugs in Hilton Head really liked her. (As a side-note, I have to add that with or without a tan, she makes some kick-ass pierogi!)

We got started weeding and talking and were 'graced' by the presence of Grace who has been holed up in a lab at U.K. this summer in from her studies at Amherst. There was a bit of spontaneous Stephen King-ism as well as a devouring of peanut butter muffins. Sarah's mom popped in after work and helped us continue our battle with the never ending sunflower seedlings and we all were amazed by the incredible
hugeness of the garden. Expansion is a dictate. We will.

Unfortunately, everyone was too busy weeding and hauling mulch and sand to get many pictures. We'll get some this week. In the meantime, enjoy the caterpilla
r that Jaz found for us! The wild bergamot is starting to bloom and the St. Johnswort is on full display. One single yellow flower topped a 5' stalk of Sawtooth Sunflowers and the bees were buzzing the pollen in triple time. Oh, and Awesome Dawson showed up in time to tell of his sunburnt woes - and to help in major fashion.

It is in fact a good thing that the garden is located in a high and windy spot - otherwise I dare say we would have all never lasted to the noon hour. It's Kentucky, it was hot. But "our" beautiful garden doesn't seem to mind. It is lush, green, flower-filled and thriving. As it should be because there's a whale of a lot of love in that space. I think it shows.


Tadpoles and tanlines

If the color of my cheeks is any indication, most of us got a few extra rays today. I'd venture to say that even James' vest got a sun burn. :P

Because of the rain this week we had a perfect morning to pluck weeds (and stray sunflowers, rambling rattlesnake masters and yeah even johnson grass). I got to the garden a little early this morning to get in some heavy duty weeding time and was lost in thought when Tyler snuck up on me with his digging tool at the ready. "Our favorite lesbian" April arrived followed by Jerome and James and ambling up somewhere in the muddle came Grace. Then Richard who opted to procrastinate on refurbishing his wooden benches - we all helped with that saying somet
hing like "if you do them at the end of the summer they will look nicer for when the students return." A surprise arrived in the form of Jennifer Michelle who seemed to me to be even taller and more gorgeous than the last time she dug in the dirt at Dunbar.

Lost in our work but with eagle-eyed April on the look-out, up rolls a "stranger" that I knew immediately had to be Ann bringing "brown eyed susans" for our brown-eyed Hannah. Her incredibly energetic and handsome son was packing a camera bigger than himself and wearing T-Ball attire. It reminded me of Jesse and his days playing that sport - the shirt with "Higginbotham" just about in a circle to fit in the space of his tiny little uniform.

I showed the camera-man the groundhog hole and then we ambled along the creek and spotted tadpoles and other mysterious creatures of the water. His shutter clicking a mile a minute and I can't wait to see what his mom posts on Facebook of the day!

We cleared a lot of ground today and spread a lot of mulch and in between caught up on the goings on of each other. Somewhere along the way someone suggested something about a pool party - I think April started it but maybe it was Tyler but whatever the case as the temps climbed and we tuckered there was a proverbial caravan to Liverpool and I was glad that Jerome and I took some time yesterday to clean and chemicalize the pool.

I was also glad to learn that I am not the only one who is accosted by mosquito's (and other biting insects) to the freaking FACE. Oh and speaking of face, Richard informed me that no matter how you type "facebook" on Facebook that it is always underscored as being misspelled. I love that kind of irony slash funny and also loved having this wonderful group of story-telling, smart, good-looking and yes even REALLY WHITE people sitting by the pool and keeping me company even if entertaining me for the afternoon was not their intention. They did and I love them and I intend to keep the pool sparkling just for these kinds of occasions.

Pink cheeks and sunblock - and a space filled with Jesse and Hannah and Josh. Erik and Aida and
Carmen's son, Danny. Most days I really wish more so-called adults could listen to the way these incredible young people assimilate their love for those who "just aren't here" - that never ends - into their lives. They just might learn something.


When kindness falls like rain

Today was one of those incredibly special days when the collection of bodies and hearts at the garden all kind of squashed together into a perfect unit of laughter, labor, camaraderie, revelry and hugs (which of course, is my favorite part).

Like the steady rain that fell this week, folks ambled up this morning to weed, mulch, talk and work. Beth with her incredible hugs that remind me so much of Hannah - her awesome beau Dawson, Jaz with her most excellent sand moving and mulching SKILLZ, Audrey with the most perfect smile, her mom and aunt to help as well. James and Jerome arrived - as did Chris who proceeded to go fetch Richard then back again playing tunes on his iPhone while our dancing queen Tyler (sorry dude - you started it!) put the groove on and then just as we seemed to be making grand progress on pulling stray sunflowers, here comes Anna with her red maple for Josh and her wonderfully happy boyfriend Adam (although I wondered if he was laughing at us as much as he was with us).

So, having grown this precious tree from a seedling back in her elementary school days, Anna's maple needed a place to spread its proverbial and literal roots. We found one, nestled
between the fringetrees and so yeah, a big hole had to be dug.

While most days we are kind of prepared at the garden, some days we pull an epic fail as we did today with nothing but hand tools. So Chris and I absconded to his parents garage and grabbed two shovels and fled. An additional trip was made later once they hit the gravel and crud that is the next 6" of ground and picked up a pick axe. Luckily James, who hates pulling weeds, loves to swing a sharp and dangerous object so between them all they dug a spot, we hauled out the gravel, hauled in some pretty soil and planted a very very VERY special tree.

We have learned the hard way that sometimes our best plans fail and our offshoots overwhelm but each of us took part in this planting in some way and today, most importantly of all, Josh Shipman was honored. I hope somewhere out there, wherever he is, he will take a special interest in this special tree from this special young woman in this very special place.

So much love has been poured into that plot of land outside Dunbar's cafeteria - and even more today. No words can quite describe it and you kind of have to be there to fully appreciate it. This day in June, we were all proud to be there - we were all proud of Anna for her diligent work and her years of tending this beautiful tree.

When Jesse's dad asked Anna what "name" she would give to this tree, she said: "freedom" and I looked at her and through tears said "Wherever Josh is right now, I hope he is free." Her beautiful face was my answer.

Thank you, Anna. We will tend your gift well. We promise. <3>

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