When I go to my community garden plot, and I’m selecting what clothes to wear, my decision-making process in my head sounds pretty much like this: “What are the crappiest jeans or shorts I have available? What T-shirt or sweater have I already destroyed with rips, tears and stains? And what sturdy shoes have already moved down to the level of Last Hurrah?” Then I make sure I’m dressed for the weather with some layers, and I head out. (As I will be shortly.)
Yesterday, when I went to my garden plot (and it was 88 degrees outside at one point after many a colder day, so many others were out, too), I noticed a group of Koreans. There are many Korean gardeners at this particular community garden, but this was clearly a group that had arrived together and with purpose.
Soon after arriving, a Korean woman, I’m guessing about my age, but she could have been older given how fabulously many Koreans typically age and care for their skin, came up to me asking for help with something. I got a close-up look at her. She was DRESSED! As in “DRESSED for social review and approval” type of dressed! I told her she looked so pretty and fashionable (as she did) and asked if I could take her picture. (It doesn’t do justice, but do NOTE THE PEARLS!)
A friend was helping her with her plot and was equally dressed to The Gardening Nines… bright colors, coordinated outfits… she could have just as easily been meeting up with girlfriends for a latte at Tous Les Jour, one of the many, many Korean coffee shops and bakeries nearby.
I laughed and pointed out our different clothes. I was wearing a pair of duck shoes that I’d bought at a thrift store a good six, seven, eight years ago, which had since become my dedicated gardening shoes and were, admittedly, beaten to a pulp. She was wearing shiny pink duck shoes with a colorful plaid accent and they were miraculously spotless.
The larger group was near my plot, so I started speaking with some of them. They were just finishing up a picnic and still had some sweet potatoes baking on a grill.
One woman, Mrs. Young — “Y-O-U-N-G, I’m old but I’m young” (and clearly I wasn’t the first person she’d used that on, though she had great delivery and made me laugh) explained how every spring and fall, they gather as a group to help each other with their plots. And understandably, it’s in the spring and fall where the big labor is needed for gardens: in spring to wake the soil and prepare it; and then in fall: to clean the gardens and prep them for sleep. Summer is about niggling maintenance (personal emphasis on the niggling part … not my favorite time of year to garden).
My pictures do not do justice to how dressed up this group was. The quality of clothing each and every person was wearing was nice. Not (or I doubt) Prada-level nice, but nice! The men, too. Everyone was wearing an outfit of good quality.
It was a short interaction, overall, yet one that left me happy for cultural diversity. Not that I feel an ounce of pressure to dress up today as I head–once again–to my plot to turn the soil and prep the garden for the spring planting season.
Come by and dig, if that calls to your soul and if you’re local. It’s good to get dirty. And make sure you wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. For me, that’s the dregs of my wardrobe!