Publication: Freedom — OCR - Placentia News-Times; Date: May 5, 2017; Section: News; Page Number: 3
WHAT A DAY
Love Placentia is a fun event for everyone
I am so exhilarated, I barely know where to start. Today I participated in my first Love Placentia Day. It was fun, it was rewarding, and it was definitely worth doing again.
Last year, I wanted to volunteer, but I had a conflict, so when my friend Sheila Jordan posted this year that she was leading a project, I signed up immediately.
We were going to freshen the landscaping at Kraemer Park. It sounded glorious—being in the sunshine, digging in the dirt, close to nature. Until I remembered how much nature dislikes me. Not only does my fair skin burn in the sun, it breaks out in itchy welts when greenery touches it.
Plus, I kill most plants.
Still, I was on the gardening brigade, so I put on a long-sleeved shirt and jeans, slathered my neck with sunscreen, and bought a pair of gloves.
I had envisioned a full day of back-breaking work, weeding, digging, and planting. What I got was about two hours of planting flowers and bushes that had already been set out in prepared flower beds. And there was plenty of help, from some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
First, we all checked in at El Dorado High School, where we got wristbands, t-shirts, and breakfast, courtesy of many sponsors. After entertainment and a few announcements, we were set free, to work on our projects.
I drove to Kraemer Park and made my first mistake. I thought I had signed up to work on the whole park. As it turns out, Sheila’s crew was only working on the fountain, which was not where I ended up. I was in front, by the Backs Building.
Someone handed me a shovel and pointed me toward a flower bed, already set with young rosemary, lavender, and bougainvillea plants. Eager to be useful, I worked beside a woman named Kristin, who had a lot more knowledge about gardening than I did.
Thankful, I followed her lead, although I did quietly beg each plant not to die just because I touched it.
As we dug, we found more than dirt. Water bottles, plastic forks, and shredded plastic bags had apparently been tossed and buried in our planter. When I found the cell phone, my imagination ran free.
“Wonder if there’s a body in here,” I said, then apologized for my macabre remark.
“Are you Gayle Carline?” Kristin asked.
It turns out, I’ve known Kristin for years, ever since she emailed me about one of my columns, based on trying to shop with pre-teen Marcus. At one point, I referred to him as Slug-Boy, a name she thought applied to her own sons when shopping. We had lots of laughs about our families, talked about good mystery stories, and shared our love of horses.
For all the hard work, what remained with me about the day was the people. Everyone was happy and energetic. Everyone was friendly. We joked like old friends, even if we weren’t. We worked like we were a team.
Things might have gone differently if the projects weren’t so well organized. Many hands make light work, but all the hands have to know exactly what they’re doing. The work was just hard enough, and the people were all wonderful.
I can’t wait to be a volunteer again next year. But first, I need a nap.
Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer whiz and horsewoman. E-mail her at [email protected].