This post could also be titled “How a chance meeting at Rubio’s with a local friend turned into a gorgeous new entryway for the garden.”
Our three-year garden renovation has included taking down fences. To begin we removed a major fence which immediately doubled the footprint of the garden. And then we lowered the fence that borders the student walkway to a waist-high level. Next we took down the fence that borders the “outdoor lunch area” in order to move in our massive rainbarrels…. and then decided not to put it back up, but to create a “grand entrance” on that side of the garden.
Someone gave me a book of garden project blueprints. The garden club looked them over and settled on a cute gate. I happened to have the book in my bag when I stopped for lunch one day and saw my friend Art. Throwing the book open to the design, I promised to purchase everything on the materials list and recruit a work team if he would agree to build it one weekend.
Art, you see, is a dedicated community member, a loving father to a student at our school, a multi-talented artist, an accomplished builder, a dynamic teacher…..and just plain crazy. That’s why he was possessed by an urge to tell me the gate I had in mind was completely ordinary and unimpressive, and what we really wanted was…(at this point he grabbed a pile of napkins and passionately began to draw diagrams and arrows.) And before my street tacos had even settled, the garden had yet another completely remarkable project in the queue.
After months of building the gate in his barn, Art and a crew of friends recently hoisted it into place on custom footings which had been poured before Christmas. Two weeks ago we celebrated its arrival at our monthly “Backcountry Collaborative” meeting where Art cut the ribbon, which was adorned with “garden wishes” the sixth grade students had written. In the classroom earlier that day and later out in the garden, Art spoke to the students and assembled adults. He covered everything from Pythagoras to the importance of quality work to the five steps of any project: Dream. Plan. Build. Smile. Rest. I told the kids that this gate is the story of someone not just doing a good, or even a great job, but truly “going above and beyond.”
He named it the “Kandu! Gate,” giving it a Japanese-sounding name to match some of the styling and reminding us every time we pass through the gate: if we can imagine something, we can do it.
Photos 1 and 2 courtesy of Marisa McFedries; Photos 3 and 4 courtesy of Chris Elisara
*Art would like to thank the following compatriots for their help in bringing this dream to fruition: Bruce Benson (Ace Co-builder), Don Madison (Millwright), Chris Elisara (Co-excavator), and the ALL American Installation Team (Bill Porter, Dennis Cantor, Mike and Michael Hatch, Tom Skibinski, Tyson Flack, Larry Shriver and Brian Duffy) a well as the documentarians (Ann Reilly, Tricia and Chris Elisara)