I am totally jealous. We went to a neighbor’s house last night before the concert at our community house. The first thing I saw was was this neat little seed starter Bob has set up. He made it with a cardboard box, some old insulation, aluminum foil and two compact florescent light bulbs. His tomatoes looked much better than mine, thick and full and not at all bushy. Then he took us out to his unheated sunroom. That’s where he is hardening off the larger plants. He has as much lettuce out there as I do in my green house, lots more tomatoes and many other food plants. It just goes to show how much food you can grow in a small space if you are creative and not worried about the decor.

What Bob lacks is good soil at his house. Our houses are kitty corner to each other and you would think they had similar soil but they are so different. Our land is river bottom. It is rich and loamy and full of earthworms. We have very few rocks and can dig down two feet without breaking a sweat. Root crops love my soil. Just across the street, Bob has rocky, sandy soil that leaches nutrients faster than he can put them back. Bob has a big ould bathtub where he mixes his compost. He painstakingly sifts and carefully plants his crops and has measly little harvests. He also has a problem with bears and deer which we are never bothered by. I think it may be because we are bordered by river on two sides and a road on a third. The fourth side has other gardens and a corn field that may fill up bear and dear before they reach us.

We offered Bob some planting space as we have more land than we can plant or harvest by ourselves (we use only hand tools except for an occasional rototilling if we are breaking up new ground). I think this brings up an important aspect of community. It is in my best interest for my neighbors to be well fed. It is the moral thing to do. In a changing world, we will be our brother’s keeper. Last night we sang and danced to two local bands. The music was terrific. We paid the cover charge ($8.00 a piece) and bought 3 CD’s will play the music for friends who have not heard it before and encourage them to pick up a CD at the Creamery. It is money I could have saved or spent on a tool or another tree but, in addition to liking the sound, supporting a local musician is keeping my brother and the right thing to do.  I want and need these folks to do well. When I buy local pottery or garlic sets, when I eat at the Creamery, when I got to church and plunk a twenty in the plate, I am keeping my brother. When I pass Phoebe’s outgrown snowsuit to a neighbor’s little girl or offer to mind a child so another neighbor can go to a doctor’s appointment, I am keeping my brother. Even scolding a child who isn’t mine for using foul language is keeping my brother. I hope my neighbors scold Phoebe if they find her behaving badly or recklessly. I want to keep and be kept by my community.

Across the world, one country has set off a launch of what may be a test missile and her neighbor is worried and angry. The same country holds two of our citizens in prison. Troops are on alert, the world is shifting uncomfortably on it’s axis. How hard it is to remember that these people, in spite of their dictatorial leadership, are also our brothers. How can we keep them?

Don’t expect an answer from me. I don’t have one. I am not even positive what the question is. I just know that the sun is shining, my tomatoes are growing, my children are laughing and their bellies are full. I want nothing less for my brothers and sisters across the street and across the world.