Literary Hook: Paying attention to the shoes at ‘Garden Club’

Christine Swanberg
Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

Garden Club

The first time I went to Garden Club, I was almost 60, having my first bout of foot tendinitis, and worried about what shoes to wear. Knowing that I would be limping if I chose vanity over support, I finally chose to wear sturdy walking shoes with the orthotics necessary to aid my feet on their quest for healing. Of course, my ugly shoes dictated what outfit I could wear; no sundress or chic black pants would bear up over white, “soleful” walking shoes. I wondered if I would be underdressed in my simple linen ecru pants with a jersey coral top. I’d dress it up with nice accessories, but would comfort and practicality impress the cadre of zealous gardeners I was eager to be part of?

When I walked in, a circle of wry women greeted me. Every last one of them was wearing sensible shoes: Easy Spirits, Birkenstocks, Swedish clogs, Keds — not one slippery patent leather, sexy gold sandal in the group, or pointy heel in the group! Every one of us had golden gardener’s skin (not without sun spots) and the sturdy hands of gardeners. They welcomed me warmly, with genuine interest, and didn’t look me up and down the way some people do at those stuffy fund-raisers I’d been to lately. These were women who played in the dirt and were proud of it.

The program was on herbs. I learned that I would have better luck with my potted herbs with a different blend of potting soil. I also learned the true art of using Miracle Gro correctly, instead of toasting my plants with overenthusiastic applications. Hey, this stuff is important to true gardening fools like me, or should I say, like us? We ate a brunch of herbed delights and received recipe handouts for them: herbed pull-apart bread, herbed beans with feta, fruit salad with mint, herbed pecans, herbed tea … all of it pure alchemy. It was a perfect way to spend a summer morning: herbal women in sturdy shoes sharing healthy, zestful recipes with no need to impress.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet. She received the Lawrence E. Gloyd Community Impact Award at the 2012 Rockford Area Arts Council State of the Arts Awards.

From the July 23-29, 2014, issue

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