Another Kind of Community

by Andréa Byrne

The citizens of Stratford occupy many levels of community.  There are those who labor ‘behind the scenes’ to create a good foundation; those who bring those efforts into daylight; those who provide aide, comfort and beauty in a variety of ways; and those whose knowledge increases our understanding and appreciation of the life we share.

While kneeling to weed the garden the other day, it struck me that I was in the middle of another community with many similarities to our own.  I sat back on my heels and watched a whole variety of tiny creatures laboring away—worms, ants, little bugs all busy digging or chewing their way through the soil, and leaving precious nutrients behind.  We often disregard them or react with distaste when we encounter them, but I thought of how important all their unseen efforts are for the life that grows above ground.

In our current season seeds are dropping from plants that have seen their best days for this year.  Birds flock to feed on the seeds and berries, and then pass them along in new and sometimes unwanted places.  But in the year to come, all those seeds and all the plants we place where we do want them will rely on those underground efforts.

In spring and summer we tend our gardens to give room and light to the new life.  We may let them grow a little wild, but not so wild that they lose themselves.  We provide water, food, and physical supports where necessary, and some of us even talk to the plants.

The bees and butterflies visit to pollinate and do their part, and then we watch with delight as flowers come into bloom and vegetables appear, each nourishing us one way or another.

When I spend time in my garden, it always provides me with focus and kinship.  And it never fails to fill me with gratitude for all the small but essential and miraculous aspects of life.

Most times while I’m gardening, a neighborhood friend—or often a stranger—stops to chat, perhaps about the garden or the way of the world, to introduce a new puppy or a new favorite book, to catch up on family news or simply smile and say hello.  This sense of community offers us the opportunity to share ideas, experiences and feelings.  What a gift that is.

This series of articles is intended to acquaint you with more of the Stratford communities that make up our town.  We invite you to share stories of your own neighborhood and what it means to you.  Please write me at: with your thoughts.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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