Terry Purinton, Writer + Westbeth Volunteer Gardener

Resident at Westbeth since 2009

Westbeth Courtyard Garden

“Good morning!” I say.

“Good morning!” she says, looking at the flowers in the courtyard garden as she walks her dog. “I love the flowers! Thank you so much.”

“It’s my pleasure.” And it is. I pull another pastel pink snapdragon from its pot and plant it along the edge. Behind us, the drone of cars along the river silences. The traffic light has turned red. I forget how quiet the courtyard is when the traffic stops. Sparrows are singing in the Japanese maple. A breeze rustles the weeping birch. I’m struck by the peace this round patch of soil gives me. Surrounded by cement, brick walls, cobblestones: a green oasis. It makes us smile. On a wealthy estate, I’ve taken care of acres of gardens that are taken for granted. Imitations of glossy magazines. Here, a begonia, every rosebud, is important. A white peony blooms for a week; a wind blows the petals across the concrete. Each moment is taken note of. The hyacinth is a surprise every spring.

Artists, the New School students, Poetic Computation teachers, schmoozers, Penny Jones Puppets kids, dog walkers, pot smokers and passersby pause, ask questions, make observations. The village commons. I give the birch a haircut, preen the lilies, feed the roses, and chat about the weather. The traffic light on West Street turns green. White noise fills the courtyard again. On Sunday afternoons, the blast of an ocean liner. Here, in this little patch, we are anchored.

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