On community gardening, but a good man is still hard to find

We come to Veg out

Alli Browning and I drove down to St Kilda to lunch with A.S. Patric.  Once parked, we found we’d stumbled onto a community garden wherein you rent a l’il plot of land to grow your own veggies.

It seemed so out of place that it seemed exactly in its right place.  Of course we ventured in.

We met Christina and Tim who’d just returned from an extended travel overseas and were planting their plot.  Tim had just jumped out of the ocean.  He swims the bay every day when not out of town.  Even in the dead of winter.  Tim’s a waterman.

Alli and I were immediately smitten with them.

Tim told us that a fox had recently gotten into the chicken coup and had massacred most of the chickens, leaving the bodies, but making off with their heads.  The fence had now been sunk deeper and cemented.  Tim told us that while he and Christina were away, the volunteers at the community had kept fertilising their plot in anticipation of their return.  He told us that veggie stealing was nil and everyone respected each other’s plots.  Christina gave Alli a bushel of rhubarb and a recipe before we left.

A.S. was waiting for us, scribbling and concocting passages he later read to us, and lunch was spent scheming and plotting storylines and situations.  A.S. is a vast soul, filled with clarity and horizons.  We see eye-to-eye; our gaze and gait are parallel.

As we were saying our good-byes, A.S. pressed a copy of Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories into my hands, said the story ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ is one for the ages, turned about heel and disappeared into the furor and bustle of St. Kilda.

Once Alli’d fired up the engine and once we’d navigated past Luna Park, I started reading the story aloud to Alli while we drove crosstown back to Carlton North.  Pulling up to the kerb some time later, I read out the final sentences of the story, closed the collection and we both sat for a minute in silence as we seeped out of the O’Connor trance we’d just spent the last 30 minutes in.

Without speaking, we got out, dropped off Alli’s thrift store delivery, bought a bottle of wine and a baguette from the patisserie, and headed back home to Amess Street.

We neither spoke of nor discussed ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’, discussions with A.S., nor community gardening as we later spread butter across slices of baguette and watched the rhubarb boil.  We agreed that everything was exactly as it should be.

Everything was in its right place.

“That’ll do,” Red Sam said.  “Go bring these people their Co’-Colas,” and the woman went off to get the rest of the order.

“A good man is hard to find,” Red Sammy said.  “Everything is getting terrible.  I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched.  Not no more.”

He and the grandmother discussed better times.

– Flannery O’Connor, ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’



Filed under Australia, Melbourne

7 responses to “On community gardening, but a good man is still hard to find

  1. Thanks JB. For so much beside a great lunch.

    Here’s to those open horizons. Lifting my glass filled with Beat spirits. Cheers.

  2. I need a passenger side narrator more often … Cheers to O’Connor, rabbits, chickens, gardening, the kindness of strangers, the simplicity of butter on bread. And everything being as it should be.

  3. You rock JB, sounds like a perfect day and you’ve just made mine – I picked up a copy of ‘3 by Flannery O’Connor’ while I was in a St. Vinnies in Gungahlin (just a bit north of Canberra) the other day, the 3 are ‘Wise Blood’, ‘The Violent Bear It Away’ and ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’. Now I just need a community garden and 3 awesome writers and I’m set.

  4. gnunn

    You are the most stylish gardener I have ever laid my peepers on JB. What a great concept… we have a great community garden up here in Bris too, but slightly different to that one… more a farm in the city kind of thing where you can go and purchase your fresh produce. Sounds like EWF was a hoot!

  5. that was a good story
    they have this kind of gardens here in Germany and also in Holland. (just a bit less the feeling of community. or so it seems). personally i was shocked when first saw it, until i realized there is not much of space for people to have a garden.
    thanks for the lovely story

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