Last week’s column

Pub­li­ca­tion: Free­dom — OCR - Pla­cen­tia News-Times; Date: May 5, 2017; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: 3

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].

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