As we move into fall, the garden is producing, in abundance, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers, along with squash, watermelon, and pumpkin.  I thought the challenge would be finding people willing to accept the surplus produce. Turns out not to be the case.  In our condo building is a bench near the main entrance.  A bowl of cherry tomatoes, a tray with cucumbers on it, and a basket with zucchini, full one day, are empty the next! So, what have I learned?  There is always a demand for fresh produce.

While working in the garden harvesting tomatoes and beans, a couple from India stopped by, and I invited them in to tour the 40 garden plots. We conversed through their college student son who acted as a translator. His mother asked about one garden plot, in particular.  The gardener had abandoned it when she moved out of town, and it had grown over in “weeds.”  She asked if she could harvest a few of the “weeds” for the lentil soup she was making that night. My lesson was that what in one culture is considered a weed is part of a soup in another.

This month, I was also reminded of the value of friendship.  The garden plots are part of a community garden, an old Dutch tradition.  As a result, there is now a group of us that take turns watering each other’s garden plots. This makes gardening so much easier when the work is shared, and it makes gardening a lot more fun.

I had the chance to reflect on old friendships as I lost three friends this month. My Dad once said that the saddest part of getting old is when your friends die. I now know what he meant. However, I feel a sense of gratitude for the chance to have known them, shared a part of life’s journey with them, and have memories to cherish from our times together.

Lastly, I’ve found several new friendships since our move into the historic district in Holland. There are 16 condominiums in our renovated 1927 grade school building located in a culturally diverse neighborhood. Last week our neighborhood association held the first annual “Taste of the Neighborhood” event in which volunteers prepared foods from their culture. Music was provided by a young couple who recently moved into the neighborhood. She played the violin, and he played the guitar and sang. There were over 20 tables and a wide range of ethnic foods prepared from old family recipes including Italian, Brazilian, Mexican, Polish, and German cuisines. What a treat!

Friendships, old and new, are the spice of life.  They bring out the flavor. Sometimes, they’re unexpected, but they definitely keep things interesting.