Weeding for Service Hours

Work in progress.
Work in progress.

For years during just a routine high tide the lower end of our street would flood.   Our house is at the higher end of the street, which is relative.  The whole city is just a few feet above sea level, so we are all subject to flooding during Nor’Easters and other large circular soaking weather patterns.  Still, a normal high tide would bring water way up into the street, and yards of our neighbors.  Over the course of a year, possibly more, city contractors destroyed the old sidewalk and bulkhead, dredged, and reconstructed the bulkhead, rebuilt the street, enlarged the drains, and put in new sidewalk, new steps down to the water, and two square public planting beds that flank the steps to the water.  In each of the two planting beds, the city planted a Crepe Myrtle tree surrounded by liriope.

It is a favorite stopping place during our Morning Walk because it provides a nice broad view of the sky, and the Lafayette River. Several of my “Cloud and Sky” tagged photos are from this spot. It also provides a narrow but lovely view of the city skyline. Neighbors gather in this spot on Fourth of July and New Years Eve to see the fireworks set off over downtown.

As regular visitors we couldn’t help notice over the course of the Spring, then Summer, then Fall, the two large planting beds becoming progressively weed infested. We would walk past, along with many, many other people and wonder when the city was going to come and weed the beds. The city never came, and by the fall you could not even see the liriope, buried as they were under an astonishing assortment of thorny weeds.

At the same time, The Daughter, now at the Pioneer level in American Heritage Girls was looking for ways to earn service hours. At her age, service opportunities are limited. Since we are still “between churches,” previous service activities like watching children during choir practice or helping with community outreach meals haven’t been an option. Last year, in addition to the service projects our AHG unit coordinated, we worked a few shifts at the local Food Bank. We also made sandwiches for the local homeless shelter. The Daughter had reservations about working at the Food Bank, and the times were a bit intrusive to our school schedule. She did enjoy making sandwiches and felt that her help was meaningful, so we plan to continue that ministry. But one morning, irritated over the sad condition of the planting beds, it dawned on me that she and I could clean out those terribly weedy beds as a service to our city and our neighbors, and earn a few hours for her AHG Service Star.

This was not a hard sell. The Daughter loves to be outside, and although she prefers climbing a tree to weeding under one, she was agreeable to the idea. So, on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-November, the Daughter and I packed up lawn and leaf bags, gardening gloves, and tools and walked down the street to the beds, and started pulling, pruning and shoveling out weeds, some of which were really almost small shrubs by that point.

It was a lot of hard work! We both worked steadily, although I will confess that I was slower as the afternoon wore on! It took us about 3 hours to weed, bag, and sweep up. Our activity attracted the attention of a few neighbors who came by to chat, and were happy to see that someone was doing something about those weeds! The neighborly conversation provided a good opportunity to tell them about American Heritage Girls and explain why we were volunteering. By the time we were finished the sun was getting low in the sky, and my back was getting stiff, so we were happy to head home for a cup of hot tea and ginger cookies!

A few days later we returned to spread some mulch around the trunks of the trees and provide a little cover for the liriope before we had a frost or freeze.

Now they are beautiful! Here are a few photos that show before, during and after!


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