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Patchwork is a magical place, and during the Arts & Smarts Program’s Art Garden Weeks, that magic is condensed into a few short mornings. Last week was our first Art Garden Week of the summer. A wonderful group of children and adults gathered each morning.

Each morning they were transported by Susan Fowler’s stories. They were “Purple People of Possibility for the Planet.” They were Jim Henson coming up with the idea for Sesame Street, which turns 50 years old this year. They were part of the story of Ali Babba opening a treasure cave with the words, “Open Sesame!” (The inspiration for the name Sesame Street.) They were the seven stars of the Pleiades. They were the first astronauts landing on the moon. They were the three sisters growing in a garden: corn for support, beans to provide nutrients from the soil, and squash to give protection by covering the soil (and perhaps by scaring away the raccoons with its prickly leaves).

The group heard stories from Gary about the Native American storyteller doll he brought to share and from Amy as she talked about collecting trash in the streets between her house and Patchwork in order to turn it into art that celebrates the many people who pass through this place. And they heard the heartwarming story about how Andrea, the mom who is heading up the gardening this year, had a much beloved principal named Norb Wooley when she was a student at Culver School. Norb was a longtime supporter of Patchwork and donated the land where our garden is now located. When he was a child, Norb lived in a house that used to be on that land. Norb died a few years ago, so before the first day of Art Garden when Andrea paused to say a small prayer to bless the garden, she also said a prayer that she would make Mr. Wooley proud.

As Susan said, we were showered with stories and blessed with information. As Susan also said, “I’m curious: What will tomorrow’s story be?”

In addition to the stories with Susan, everyone spent time in the garden with Andrea planting sweet potatoes, corn, peas, beans, tomatoes, and radishes. They spent time in the ceramics studio with Jean making garden markers and a variety of bowls. One boy was new to Patchwork and was feeling a little hesitant to join in all the activities with everyone else. But out in the studio he found something he loved and after his group’s time making ceramics he proudly showed off his muddy hands.

Everyone also spent time making snacks in the kitchen with Rita and Gail. They cut and mixed and spread. They worked together as a team, and the group that included a bunch of 10 to 12-year-old boys told “Dad Jokes” like, “What do you call a pair of banana shoes? A pair of slippers!” On the first day, Gail commented that when you are at a fancy restaurant the really good food has a really fancy name. So the kids decided to come up with a fancy name for each day’s snack. Chips and salsa became “Mix-a-Rita Salsa Spectacular.” Toast with Nutella and a side of fresh fruit became “Frutella a la Fruit Noot Kids’ Spectacular.” A mix of watermelon and cantaloupe became “Wat Can Melon Spectacular.” And chips and guacamole became “Guack Guack Holy Guacamole with Electric Lime Guitar” (because half an avocado is shaped like a guitar).

The magic continues for several more weeks. We’re in the middle of Bike Weeks now, followed by Dance Week and the second Art Garden Week in July. If you stop by, you never know what you’ll find, but it will be fun.

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