As these little brigands ran through the lawn, and searched the rosemary and miscanthus for chocolate treasure, I thought: this is why I have a garden. Most days I want a garden for the beauty, for the food, for the pure pleasure of dirt. But really, I want a garden that little people can poke in, discover in, get dirty in. A place where parents of the little mischief makers can sit and chat and watch them as they imagine the playhouse into a ship on a tossing sea. I’m finding that a garden like that – a place for kids to play widly, and for parents to commune, and for me to grow food – can exist, but it takes more work than would a garden that must serve only one purpose, either food or beauty or play. My garden cannot be completely utilitarian, because I cannot leave the garden fork where it might put out small eyes, or where rows of leeks take over the baseball field, such as it is. It cannot be given over entirely to play, because I would grieve. And I’ve never considered having a garden that was just about beauty, primarily because I’d never achieve it. For me and my garden, balancing food, beauty, and play means an uneasy, and not always lovely, give and take. Two weekends ago food took a bit more lawn, as I dug up a chunk for new raspberry bushes. But last weekend play won, the pirates descended, and as I drank my grog I couldn’t have wished for a better garden.
On Saturday, at about 10:30am, pirates overran the garden. They pilaged, drank grog, and swashbuckled in celebration of Noah’s fourth birthday. A small exemplar of the species piratus preschoolerus: