Post inspired by Day 20 of Gwen Bell’s December blogging challenge:
Who is your unsung hero of 2009?
I'm smiling right now, looking at this picture of two of the kids I mentor in a children's garden in New York City. They are planting tomatoes we grew from the seeds of the previous year's crop for our communal 'pizza' vegetable garden.
When I tell people about my work with the kids, the reaction is often something like, 'Oh, that's great. What a good thing you're doing for those kids, etc.' While I truly appreciate the cheerleading, because its unpaid and often unnoticed work that takes precious hours away from my business and writing, I want to tell people, 'No. It isn't what I'm doing for those kids. It's the other way around. Those kids save me.'
The two little girls in this picture love the earth. They worry about what's happening to it the way I worried about nuclear war when I was growing up. The older one told me that when she sees trees that are being 'mistreated' she cries. She said that she cries at night sometimes thinking about what's happening to the planet.
The kids feel incredibly proud when they plant trees, make compost, watch the seeds they planted grow into sunflowers. They are delighted by worms, by dark rich soil, by finches nibbling crab apples and mason bees dozing on coneflowers. Their delight is infectious to anyone who is open to it.
They are learning how to be advocates for the earth, and they inspire me every time I see them.