Friday, March 18, 2011

The Garden Fairies

One constantly enduring aspect of my Peace Corps service is its unpredictability.  It’s true that I have a generally structured schedule working at school each day.  However, there is always the unknown ‘X’ factor.  Every day I think I have life here a bit more figured out, but each day I experience at least one little surprise that reminds me I’m not in Missouri anymore [that might be funny if I were from Kansas].

Yesterday’s surprise came in the form of garden fairies!  First, you must understand that the yard surrounding my little house has always been a bit of a mess.  When I first moved in, there was not much grass to be seen.  The yard consisted of lots of tall weeds, rocks everywhere, and a mountain of old coconut shells. [People here feed pigs coconuts and accumulate quite a lot of shells.  My yard was apparently the neighborhood graveyard for coconut shells!] 

Slowly but surely the yard has been improving.  When the grass/weeds get out of control, a kind PTA soul comes over with a weedwacker [the most popular yard maintenance machine here, followed closely by big machetes…] and tames my yard.  My contribution to the yard work has been moving rocks around.  There are a few parts of my fence where my neighbors’ pigs are attempting to burrow underneath the fence in order to come leave pig poo gifts.  To battle them, I wander around my yard picking up rocks and then masterfully shoving them under the fence to create a pig proof rock barrier. 

Essentially, even after a weedwacking/rock moving session my yard was still a sad sight.  My dear neighbor, Mele Lose [who is 78 and loves to hobble over to my house to chat], always sits on my front steps and peering into my yard mumbles things like ‘faka ‘ofa’ and ‘palaku.’  She is saying that the yard is pitiful and ugly and a variety of other chatterings that I don’t understand.  : ( 

The moms did a wonderful job directing the very helpful kids.
  'Plant that one a little to the left, eh?'
They may be sitting now, but a minute ago the lovely ladies were
toiling away in the garden!
Here is where the Garden Fairies come in!  Yesterday, 4 ladies and an assortment of kids appeared at my front gate with brooms, shovels, and plants!  Everyone went to work sweeping grass, burning huge piles of grass, picking up the never ending supply of rocks, and finally creating a little garden for Nola.  I sat with some of the kids reading Dr. Seuss books while my pitiful weed collection turned into a respectably maintained yard.  Now… you can confirm with my ‘Master Gardener’ mother that I’ve never been one to pine after plants.  But, my new little garden made me pretty much ecstatic.  I suppose my delight stems not actually from the garden, but from the kindness shown to me by these lovely ladies.  It is not as if they were at home reading Vogue Tonga and needed further entertainment.  More likely, these women left piles of laundry and unfinished cooking and cleaning in order to come help me. 

I am continually impressed and humbled by the generosity of my Tongan community.  I only hope I can keep my new plants alive, so that my Garden Fairies’ work has not been in vain.      


  1. Nora, Sydney would like to know what the massive bucket is on your porch. She also says that your garden is lovely and especially likes the walkway area.

  2. Matt (&Syd). The giant bucket is my 'Sima Vai.' It catches rainwater for me to drink! The water runs off my roof, into a little gutter, and then falls into the bucket!