The women's center closed, and the next year, my last year teaching, he would help start the garden at the middle school with the kids and my friend Nathan, "the Man in Overalls" of Tallahassee Food Gardens.
And then, when we got our own huge plot in the FAMU community garden just before we got the news that we'd be moving to Arkansas, Woody worked on his own garden projects including a bean house, planting and tending onions, and doing as much of the watering as I'd let him.
So when we visited Tri Cycle Farm yesterday evening, Woody picked up where he'd left off with a pastime that he's had since birth--hanging out and digging in at the community garden. Don, who owns the property and organizes the garden, showed us around and my friend Terrah, a longtime and regular volunteer, met us out there to help us get started.
When we arrived she was making plant markers for the many, many beds that were ready to be or had recently been planted.
So Woody helped to make some of the markers...
...and identify which markers went to which beds. Terrah and Woody looked at the sketch of the layout of the garden to get a good idea of where they were going, then we played "Hot and Cold" to help Woody find the exact bed once he was out there on the paths.
He had a really good time, and was very proud of his contribution. Part of that was because of Terrah, I think. She was truly grateful for his help, and included him in everything she was doing. The other volunteers we met--Heather, Lavada, and Nick--were also very kind, and it was plain to see they were enjoying their work. The happy, busy mood of the place was infectious.
When we got back in the car, Woody immediately wanted to make plans to come back on Saturday, since Saturday was the main work day. I wondered why that rationale would be important to him until I realized that he was valuing his contribution to the whole. He liked being there working with the other workers. He liked being part of that team.
This, I felt good about, and it was the perfect antidote to yesterday's disappointing news from the dentist about Woody's many cavities. For whatever else I did and will continue to do to unintentionally complicate or halt the flow in this child's life, I helped him find and develop a rich and healthy passion. I have many, many people to thank for helping me to be able to do that, but today I'm going to be generous with the pats on my own back, too.