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Oct 202011

My Gentlemanly Neighbor

The allotment next to mine is cared for by an old man. Is he seventy? He is very trim, and I think he’s quite handsome. He has never said a bad word to me, that I know of. He’s always saying, “Dzien dobry, pani!” and making small talk of the sort I can usually manage, like about the types of trees, amount of sun, vegetables, flowers, and being away. We were both away for much of the summer. He clued me into Pan Kale, who is in the allotment on the other side of him.

I like him and he likes me. That’s real nice. Maybe he likes me because I removed a source of trouble for him — this plot was a hangout for garbage-dumpers, drinkers, trash burners and that sort of lot. One of the trash heaps I cleaned up was right next to his fence, so I’m sure he appreciates that it is no longer there.  I often see him sitting on his bench and looking at his flowers. He only grows flowers.

Of course lately he’s been cleaning up and getting ready for winter just like everyone else. When I first met him he seemed worried about the way I slung my jacket over the tree. He said, “Keep everything in your pocket or someone will steal it.”

A few days ago I came to the garden and noticed the gate was wide open. It turns out I forgot to put the lock on. The lock was still hanging there from the chain, unlatched. Inside, everything was in order. That’s good, because it wouldn’t have fit in my pocket.

Oct 172011

On October 15, 2011 a few residents of the apartment buildings as well as many kind friends came out and helped build two 2m x 1m raised beds. Here they are! I like the guy fixing his car in the background.

Garden beds

Garden beds

The Society of Creative Initiatives arranged for a photographer to be there and she took some amazing pictures which can be seen here: ę blog

We had to move from the original spot because some of the neighbors complained. We got moved next to the drunks’ bench. As it turns out the drunks are with us! But there were several people who seemed to be very upset about the idea of growing fresh vegetables in a public space with open participation. They said it would attract rats. They feared the open participation of rats.

Well, maybe the opposition is not so serious after all. One of the most vocal changed her mind after I shared the bread I’d baked and . . . she wanted the recipe.

Oct 102011

Come find out how to grow herbs and vegetables in the city and help establish a garden in our neighborhood. This weekend October 15 and 16 from 10 to 2.
ul. Pawińskiego 29, 02-106 Warsaw

Przyjdź, dowiedz się jak uprawiać zioła i warzywa w mieście. Załóżmy mały ogród na naszym osiedlu. Zapraszamy w weekend 15-16 października w godzinach 10.00-14.00. ul. Pawińskiego 29, 02-106 Warsaw

Urban Greens October 15-16

Get in on the gardening action in our neighborhood. Learn how to establish a vegetable garden in the city, the basics of organic gardening, how to make compost and prepare the garden beds now so they’ll be ready for planting in the spring. The kids can help paint flower pots and the fence for our little garden.

Saturday October 15
10.00-11.00: How to make a garden. With Jodie Baltazar, organic gardener and originator of the project
11.00-14.00: Make the garden

Sunday October 16
10.00-11.00: How to make compost. Workshop with Jodie Baltazar and Adam Będkowski
11.00-14.00: Make the garden

Yard between Pruszkowska 12 and Pawińskiego 29

More information:

ę Towarzystwo Inicijatyw Twórczych
Miasto Stołeczne Warszawa
Ministerstwo Kultury i Dziedzictwo Narodowego

Oct 072011
Leaves from the yard

Leaves from the yard

Today I went outside in the yard of the blok to put aside some bags of leaves for the upcoming workshops, in which we will sheet mulch one of the garden beds. I selected bags that were mostly leaves (no garbage), and put a nice sign on them (Please don’t throw away. For neighborhood garden.) and set them out of the way of the trash man.

As I was doing this, a woman came up and started yelling at me. She wasn’t asking me anything—she was yelling. I am pretty sure she did not want me to put the bags where I was putting them. So I said, “Gdzie, mogę?”—”Where can I?” But she just kept yelling.

I recognized the word brudny (dirty) or maybe it was brzydki (ugly). I said, “Nie są brzydki, to liście,”—”They aren’t ugly. They’re leaves.” I wanted to say, “They aren’t dirty. They’re leaves,” but frankly sometimes the wrong word comes out. Either way, it didn’t satisfy her. She kept yelling but there was nothing more I could say. It’s amazing how if you don’t say anything, people will just keep talking.

She finally walked off with her little dog. That’s my neighbor!

There is a woman who is always in my yard. Woman-of-the-bench I call her. She is always on the bench and she is always talking. Her voice is a monotone in that all the syllables have the same stress, but she spits them out in even little packets so it sort of sounds like a machine gun, but slower. These packets bounce around between the buildings, a chamber of echos. I can hear her from my 5th floor apartment. Rat-a-tat-tat every day.

Well, she was sitting in her usual spot, with two other woman of a similar retirement age. I approached, but before I could ask my question, which was going to be, “Where do you think I could store these bags of leaves for one week?” She asked me why I was piling up those bags over there. I explained that they were for the garden that will be built in the yard next week. Then she launched the attack. The words flew. I got the idea that she knew of the project (to grow veges and herbs in the yard) and didn’t approve. I think she was saying, “I don’t want any herbs. I don’t need any herbs.” I think.

Finally, I told her, “I don’t understand what you’re saying.” I figured she wanted to know by what authority I was allowed to do such a thing so I told her I had permission. “Who? Who?” she said. “WSM,” I replied, which is the neighborhood council that gave me permission. Thank god it has initials and I didn’t have to say what the initials stood for. But then she kept asked me, “Kto polecie? Kto polecie?” and I thought it meant, “Who is flying?” which it sort of does, and I didn’t know how to answer that question. Finally, the old ladies just ignored me, even though I kept standing there stupidly for some time.

Later I found out what “Kto polecie?” means. It means: “Who ordered it?” In Poland, it seems, nothing happens without an order from someone. Maybe a better literal translation could be, “Who let the shit fly?”