I climb out of the car, and walk toward my community garden plot with my eyes are trained on the plot next to mine. A young man, hair pulled back in a ponytail, and a little girl—maybe two-years-old—are in it. I get closer and see they’re both barefoot, and I’m thrilled by the ordinary extraordinariness of dirty bare feet in a garden.
We greet one another, he’s new this year. He introduces me to Allie, his little mud-covered daughter. I affix my watering wand to my hose as we chat. I learn they’ve just moved to our city.
They’re delighted with this little plot of earth as he, his wife, and sweet little Allie now live in an apartment. He tells me where it is, and smiles as he says it because it’s close enough so they can walk to the garden. I picture it. It’s a small unassuming building in an older, established part of the city.
We talk about planting, and weather, and the local farmer’s market that’s operating mostly online these days. He tells me about the farm he worked on before they moved here and his wife’s job that brought them to our city.
I watch Allie up to her knees in mud playing with a tractor and having the time of her life in this plot where nothing much green is growing yet. I think this man is growing the most valuable thing of all now—a daughter—and from what I can tell by their muddy bare feet and smiles, he’s doing a fine, fine job.
When my watering is finished and I’m back in the car ready to go home, I sit for a moment and watch as he hoses off his bare feet and slips them into a pair of sandals. That little scene looks a lot like hope. I think that man and his family have the power to change the world. For starters, they just changed my day.