Summer in Eastern Montana is full of long, lazy days spent trying to beat the heat and, if you were in Glendive this week, dodging the hail storm that took out many of our gardens. I’m still trying to figure out why my garden at the Prairie Development Center was leveled while gardens just a couple miles west got nothing more than a good soak. Montana’s microclimates never cease to baffle me!

A sad looking tomato plant.

Luckily, my garden had just fulfilled its primary role for the summer by providing greens to about 40 kids who came by for their summer reading program through the library. The theme this year is “DIG INTO READING.” As you can imagine, I didn’t have to twist any arms to schedule myself into this particular program.

In Glendive, many of the kids spend their summers taking care of younger siblings, or being taken care of by older siblings. Many are out on their bikes around town, waiting for the pool to open or baseball practice to get underway. Sometimes these biker crews make it all the way out to Makoshika, the badlands state park that boarders Glendive.

As far as I can tell, Makoshika State Park, the library, the city recreation department and the Boys & Girls Club account for nearly all school-age activities during the summer. As a FoodCorps member, I go where the kids go and, thus, have partnered with all these groups over the years. Fortunately, they are always game for new programming and, of course, delicious snacks!

The Boys & Girls Club, in particular, is my home base this summer largely because it’s where we built a garden last year. This year we’ve planted some exotic plants and even some mystery seeds. I had a memorable line from a kiddo this spring who was helping me pot starts. He couldn’t remember what kind of seed was in his pot. When I urged him to describe any characteristic that would help identify it he said, “It was a LITTLE seed!”

Luckily gardening with kids isn’t rocket science and if things go well, they’ll have lots of fun and learn a lot. Likewise, if things go badly they’ll still have fun and learn!

Garden Wildlife!

Tragically, the Boys and Girls Club did not escape the hail. That said, we’ve got it pretty well cleaned up and I’m mentally preparing to replant. It’s important that the kids not see any sign of defeat in the recent destruction of our garden plants during the last few weeks of my service term. I hope my behavior and attitude will model resilience and perseverance. In the garden as in life, when you get hailed on there’s nothing to do but refocus and replant.

Anne McHale is a service member in Glendive.