Old Mr. Hooper's garden is coming along nicely. I drive past his plot of dirt at 40 miles per hour several times a week on my way into town, and always check on his progress. His garden is out by the road, located about a mile before the country road becomes a 4 lane suburban throroughfare.
Mr. Hooper is Old School. He wears long-sleeved plaid shirts, pressed pants and a straw hat. He's a bit stooped over, and I've often seen him leaning on a rake, supervising a younger man in a tank shirt and shorts. His old truck and 50's style ranch house are meticulously maintained. Of course.
I've learned alot about gardening from passing by and observing him through my car window. I've realized that he starts tilling a couple of weeks before the last frost. Whenever I see his freshly turned earth I feel a little wistful. Darn! Another year and I still don't have a vegetable garden! When I saw that he'd set out his tomato plants, I knew we were no longer in danger of a freeze. I didn't need the Farmer's Almanac to tell me.
This year, I noticed that Mr. Hooper protected his baby tomato plants with hollowed out 5 gallon buckets. And last year, he hung red Christmas balls from his gorgeous plants to trick the birds into pecking them instead of his precious tomatoes. Smart! I made mental notes so that when I start my garden I'll remember it. I see that he's used different colored twine for the different rows of vegetables that are already starting to come up. And within each row, he has staggered his plantings so that he will enjoy fresh produce continuously.
I still haven't figured out how he keeps the weeds out. Maybe that younger man does all the grunt work.
Note to self. Get man to do grunt work.
In watching the Old School gardener, I've thought about the other "Mr. Hoopers" in my life: people whose lives I have observed and learned from over the years. There's my mom, an incredible woman of faith who has influenced me, probably more than anyone else. I've watched her live a life of ministry and service to others, but mostly ministry and service to her family. There is my friend Barbara, an enthusiastic grandmother who recently earned her PhD in Counseling, active in the lives of women in my church. Then there is Billie, a great-grandmother who is still serving and involved with others. She and her husband are greeters at church. There is also Priscilla, (her book is in my sidebar), whose walk with the Lord and godly wisdom never fail to inspire me.
Another "Mr. Hooper" is my sister, Katherine. In raising her five children, her heart is at the core of her family and I've learned a lot from the way she loves and cares for them. I've found other "Mr. Hoopers" in blogland: Chris, at Come to the Table, and Kim at Lifesong are a couple that easily come to mind. I love to read these ladies' blogs because there is so much to glean from their lives.
I'd like to step on the brake and pull over the next time I see Mr. Hooper out in his garden. I'll bet he is like most other gardeners I've known--willing and eager to share bits of knowlege with novices like me. After all, there is only so much a person can learn by merely passing by. I know if I just spent a little time with him I'd walk away with a wheelbarrow full of enthusiasm and newfound wisdom for getting my garden underway.
I feel encouraged to tap my brakes so I can spend some time with my other "Mr. Hoopers," too. I think I'll go with an empty wheelbarrow so I can load up while I'm there.
Do you have some "Mr. Hoopers" in your life?
Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.