Monday, December 21, 2009

My Young Heros

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.


wholly jeanne said...

your (you)ngsung heroes and sheroes: they save you - i get that. i totally get that.

Julie said...

Kate, I am speechless. I, too, get that they save you. To know she cries at night about how the earth is being treated breaks my heart open. That's the one thing that keeps me directed and out of despair...the radiant faces of my grandchildren. These kids are our unsung heros. We must do better by them. Thank you.

Katherine Herriman said...

I remember being like that when I was a kid. I lost the edge of that empathy somewhere along the way and replaced it with complacency though. Don't let that little girl lose hers!

TheWordWire said...

The Earth and everyone on it is lucky to have advocates like them -- Thanks for such a touching post.

Kate Temple-West said...

Katherine, sometimes the teenagers forget, though I have faith that they can get their deep empathy back again because I've seen it happen (and experienced it) with adults. The trick for me is to get a big enough serving of joy with all of the hurt there is to go around. In any case, I'll do my best!

Dian Reid said...

What a beautiful post, Kate. So glad to have found you via Julie Daley's blog & best of 09 =)

Kate Temple-West said...

Thanks Dian. Happy to have found you, too!