We’re nearing the end of 2020, and a big part of me wants to shout from the treetops, “Good riddance! Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya!” And yet, even as I type that, I am immediately reminded of the bounty, the abundance, the copious amounts of support and encouragement from our community this year.

After this year, I’ll gladly welcome windstorms, snow, and hot summer days that make it difficult to keep things watered. At least those events are short term and ultimately don’t keep people away. That’s what we’ve missed this year, the people. Who knew we would be living our lives through a digital screen in 2020? While I’m grateful for the technology, I’m starved for facetime, actual real facetime. Don’t be surprised when you come to the garden if I hold you hostage with my mundane stories and jokes.

All this aside, we have been reflecting on the past year with a real appreciation for the amount of good that has happened regardless of the socio-economic climate. Despite obstacles thrown at us from the pandemic, I have watched our team pivot and swerve like dodge ball pros to deliver programming and workshops. I’ve also seen the frustration and disappointment when they and I have had to pull back and hit the pause button all too often. Our virtual fundraiser was such a success despite the challenges and showed us that we are innovative, capable of adapting and growing.

None of our disappointments and frustrations compare with the amount of human suffering and loss that seeped into our community and our country. We are in a marathon that has no finish line. Perhaps the better metaphor is an endless relay race where we are constantly passing the baton to our teammates, our friends, our community. Pushing and pulling each other forward with encouragement, a listening ear, a walk through a garden.

For the last year, I have been an observer of this pandemic, always watching, listening, and monitoring the situation. The bounds of my patience have been stretched. I’m not a patient person. There is a breaking point, and mine has arrived. I received news this week that my Mom has been diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s early days, and she says that she’s doing as well as can be expected. The nightmare, the fear, and the anxiety are real.

I debated sharing this so publicly; it’s not a ruse for your sympathy. Just like the news of this hitting home for me, I wanted it to hit home for you. So many of us have been unscathed by this pandemic, watchers from the sidelines. Please be vigilant. Renew your resolve. Tighten your seatbelts.

I so badly wanted to write a post that would encapsulate the accomplishments of the garden this year. I have made multiple attempts to convey just that. In my DNA, it’s to put my best foot forward, to see the silver linings, to look for the good. We are not living in typical times. Creating fluff and positivity is important for our wellbeing. For now, I’ll pass the baton and hit the pause button.

In closing, let me say, THANK YOU! Your support and encouragement are so appreciated. Your visits to the garden, your appreciative comments on social media, and your contributions to our bottom line have sustained us immeasurably. It is such a privilege to take care of your garden.



Joseph Abken, Executive Director