Garden views, close to home

(Chris Mcnulty)
By Hayley Kaufman
Globe Staff / September 17, 2011

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“We don’t have time.’’

That’s the line I often hear myself repeating to my kids. Yes, it’s a cliche straight out of the song “Cat’s in the Cradle.’’ And yes, I feel guilty every time I say it.

So when we found ourselves with a wide open afternoon recently, we took advantage of it. For months, we’ve been driving by a huge community garden in our town. It abuts a sizable reserve called Cunningham Park that’s home to the town pool and hiking trails, and each summer the garden bursts with lovingly tended vegetation. Each time we whoosh by, admiring it through the car windows, I think, “We should really take a look at that one day.’’ We never do.

That is, until that day I pulled the car over and we got out to explore. We have a little raised garden in our backyard, but these people are serious growers. There were tomatoes, lettuce, corn, and sunflowers with stalks as big around as your wrist. We saw squash (most of them still quite small) and robust vines dotted with flowers. Several plots bloomed with pink and yellow and orange zinnias.

This being the end of summer, most of the plants were overgrown and rangy, which made it difficult to make our way through the gardens. But we did OK, careful to keep off the plants and away from the hovering bees. It was hot in the sun and finally we sought a bit shade, which - wouldn’t you know it - led us to one of the walking paths.

It was lined with pines and quiet. So we kept on going. We talked about the trees and the little creek that cut through them, about the town, about how crazy it was that we’d never done this little bit of exploring so close to where we live.

The whole excursion didn’t take more than a couple of hours, enough time to locate a tiny spring, get a good look at a dragonfly’s transparent wings, and remember that it doesn’t take that much time to reconnect with your kids.

Hayley Kaufman can be reached at

WHO: “G’’ editor Hayley Kaufman, her husband Chris, and their kids Nate, 7, and Rachel, 4

WHERE: The town garden in Milton

WHAT: Exploring what’s (almost) in your own backyard

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