A harbinger of spring, we tackled the asparagus patch this week. Mel pulled dried weeds and pushed loads of compost uphill.

With shovel in hand, I assessed my half of the labor. Yes, our food is worth the work.

Fastidious about my gardens’ borders, I began with a sharp-edged moat on the west side of the plot. I first saw this trench method thirty years ago in Shakespeare’s Gardens, Stratford, Ontario. The effect is aesthetic, and hinders grass and weed invasion.

Now, there’s something potent about the resolve to put your boot to a shovel that opens your senses to God’s goodness. The more I dug and lifted clods of earth and grass, the louder the birds sang.

Oh, those robins! Plump with fertility, they hopped and flapped their wings like cheerleaders. “Go, Iris, go!”

As my shovel turned south, I heard my neighbor’s children at play, and that piercing squeal high enough to break the sound barrier.

I met the parents two years ago when I passed their home on foot. I thanked them for their children’s free entertainment after school, on weekends, long summer days, and nights by their bonfire.

“Your daughter’s screech is magnificent,” I said.

The father laughed. “I told my wife we could never live in a subdivision.”

“I’m glad for that,” I said.

Their two boys and girls gathered to check out the stranger. With the sweetest smile, the younger boy looked down to his feet.

The mother said, “Go in the house right now and take off your new church shoes.”

Having been a child and young mother, I empathized with both.

The little guy looked me in the eye.

“Wow, those are really cool church shoes!”

That’s all he needed to hear, and ran off to obey.

Warm with exercise and memory, I turned the last corner of the asparagus plot and recalled the subdivision where I grew up in Warren.

In the later summers of polio epidemics, our playmates flocked to our house as they did every season. Our little lawns in front and back provided a safe place for endless hours of Mother May I and building snowmen.

Not once did my parents or neighbors complain about our commotion. And believe me, several screamers resided on our block. Not once did an adult speak “polio” to my sisters and me, nor in our hearing.

I understand we live in different times. Yet, in this present, global darkness, the robin still sings her perennial song of rebirth. We turn the earth to sow food.

Dear Reader, let us call upon the prayer we learned in childhood.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen

Contact Iris at irisleeu@sbcglobal.net.