Helping Out

by Abra Brynne, Executive Director

It is early October and it’s still warm enough to have the window beside my desk open. I can hear gardening sounds that keep distracting me. Across the alley from my house lives an elderly Italian woman named Domnica. She is trimming a very impressive grape vine on her property. 

I moved to this neighbourhood at the end of January this year. We had just started to locate all our belongings and enough space amongst the detritus of our lives to begin looking outward towards our new neighbours when the pandemic hit BC. Suddenly all my plans for connecting with our new neighbours, of finding common interests over the fences and moving towards shared meals and garden harvests – they all ground to a sad halt. 

It may be because I am from a family of 13 people, but i am driven by a deep instinct to connect with others and to see those connections as vital to my well-being and life. Domnica and I exchange smiles and waves in keeping with COVID guidelines for keeping distance from those not in my bubble. But here I sit in frustration, having to ignore my passionate urge to go help her trim her vines. And I know that my offer of help would be more for me than for her: I would get to learn from a deeply experienced home gardener about how to properly tend grape vines, all in exchange for the offer of my slightly younger brute strength in clipping, raking and cleaning up. 

Our food security, community well-being, and resiliency in the face of the inevitable challenges of life are all best served through relationships – with place, with people, with our cultures. 

And maybe next year, I will experience the joy of helping Domnica with many garden tasks and carrying on the important tradition of learning from our elders…  

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