For years I have been writing about The Garden. For me, it is the landscape we live within. This landscape has buildings, roadways, noisy trucks, noisy neighbors with leaf blowers, trees, flowers, and merchants who provide us with the necessities and the surprising much-needed delights of life.

This week we mourn the passing of a merchant institution on the Hill — Metropolitan Market. For many current residents, they do not know of the passing of other fine merchants, such as the S&M Market, or Halliday’s Pharmacy. But these were smaller institutions. While there was sorrow, there was not the wrenching loss that we all feel with the closing of Met Market. It was an institution. We watched as Dick Rhodes redefined the supermarket industry. This happened in OUR community!

Never before had a supermarket allowed their customers to enter through the produce department. 

The aisles were too narrow, according to industry standards, but they did start a trend for young people to cruise the aisles for more than just product! The lighting was too soft, the shelves were always full, and we got to bond with our checkers. We will adjust, but I hate the emptiness. Thankfully, I have my other community-oriented market – Ken’s Market on McGraw. The same ambience, the same warm smiles and bad jokes, the same over-arching importance of serving our community with the best.

Dealing with one loss is exhausting, but then having to also say a fond farewell to Pat Sobeck, the soul of the Queen Anne Helpline has made this July a bit too sorrowful. Actually the two events are tied together, for it was Dick Rhodes who realized the need for the Helpline. He had noticed that several of his customers were buying dog food, and he knew that they did not have a dog. He realized that even in the affluent community of Queen Anne there were customers of his that had to ‘stretch’ their food budgets. Can you imagine one of the “box” stores being aware of their customers’ needs on that level?

Pat Sobeck was the Helpline. I can only hope that someone has created an oral history of her work. It is an extraordinary story. I shall miss her enthusiastic smile that was always there when I dropped off my donations. And, I will continue to endure the snarky looks from my politically correct neighbors when I don’t bring my own bags to the supermarket. All those Met Market and Ken’s Market paper bags I carried out of their stores ended up at the Helpline, for their clients might not have been able to always bring their own bags.

 

This year, on July 14th, we once again (28 years) ran and walked the Helpline fundraiser, the Queen Anne Helpline Fun Run. I pulled together a contingent of friends and we devoted the morning to sharing stories as we walked, and forced ourselves to remember to stay mindful of our goal. We worked very hard to stay focused, in order to come in last. We achieved our goal! It was a grand turnout, and now we must keep our calendars open so that we will be in town for the event next year. We need to triple the participation, in order to honor all of Pat’s work, and to show the new Director just how much the Queen Anne community is dedicated to sharing our abundance.

 

Enough sorrow. The luxuriant, almost tropical growth in our gardens brings many surprises and, of course, concerns. The warm, though oftentimes wet, and gray weather, lures us out to work. The sheer exuberance causes us pause – and at times worry. Should I prune? I need to crop. Those lilies need staking. How can those weeds shoot up overnight? If I don’t deadhead the ‘whatevers’, there will be no more blooms this year. Yikes.

Relax. Grab a good book and hide from the needy family members. Go for a float in the Sound, for the waters won’t get much warmer.

Revel in all the growth – yes, even the weeds. Laugh at their exuberance. Then, with a good friend, go for a slow, leisurely walk in your neighborhood. Take a pair of secateurs with you for I am afraid you will be accosted by low hanging branches or nasty blackberry thorns. But I assure you that also you will be accosted by many wonderful sights in all the gardens that our neighbors tend with such consuming passion. Their ideas always bring me some very pleasant ruminations on what it means ‘to garden’.