The little strip of dirt that I call my garden has been a labor of love, yes, but even more than that it has been a public action, a movement towards public enjoyment of the streets and walks and yards that have been paved, littered and soiled. So I set out to remake my landlord's strip of dirt and litter into a flower garden, which by every measure is not a new story in this town, but was novel to our block and noticed. In those few years I've met almost every neighbor, those sour on my work and those proud.
I still have to pick up the trash -thrown, dropped, or tucked into the plants, but I do so without hesitation for every person who appreciates the garden. And there are many of them. They stop to chat about my garden or theirs, some walk by casually tossing out a thank you, other people say how wonderful it looks even when it doesn't look all that good. I believe that their lives are better in this one small way.
I don't plant and tend for the attention, but the attention keeps me going when the daily litter gets me down. I simply know that for every person who tosses soiled rags into the flowers, there are ten who change their route just to see what's blooming. We don't get involved with volunteerism for accolades, but I've come to feel that something is missing from our effort to clean the woods in Prospect Park. It feels as if few to none are present to appreciate our efforts, despite how much Parks officials tell us it is so.
Faced with the dismal inundation of litter week in and out, I would be motivated by a single act -go into the woods. Just once, walk through the forest. Go ahead, notice.