It’s Wednesday evening and a handy crowd of volunteers has turned up for the mid-week Reimagine get-together. The jobs are divvied up. Some paint flower boxes in Kyle St, some go planting on Kyrl’s Quay, others go picking up rubbish on North Main St.
Regular volunteer Donal, newbie Ciara and yours truly go off watering plants. First stop will be Coleman’s Lane, then onto North Gate Bridge, back to the Kyle St garden and finally to Kyrl’s Quay.
I’m no good with numbers but by my last count I reckon we had somewhere in the region of 4 million flower boxes. Each one needing watering twice a week regardless of the weather to make sure the plants thrive. It’s a time consuming job. We fill our watering cans countless times and stroll back and forth across old medieval Cork.
A lack of our own water tap has proved to be only a minor obstacle thanks to the kindness of the local residents and businesses in the area. St Peter’s on North Main St are always helpful in this regard.
Local resident Eileen on Kyle St too. She never seems to mind strangers trekking through her home to get water and is always welcoming, even though splashes are inevitable and our muddied shoes can leave tracks on the floor.
We can undoubtedly be a nuisance, but still, people are glad to help us. It’s like their way of saying thanks to all the Reimagine volunteers for making such a difference in the area.
Sometimes though, watering begins when our go-to watering holes may not be available. Businesses may be shut and people may not be at home to let us through to their kitchen sink. Fear not, however, when this happens we just go to Noel’s place.
Noel lives on Grattan St and has a tap in his garden which he has kindly told us to use whenever we need, even when he isn’t at home. Tonight, we begin our weekly watering odyssey by heading to Noel’s.
On the way, I get distracted taking pictures of Coleman’s Lane so Donal and Ciara arrive first. When I get on the scene, they’re filling their cans in the corner of the garden, unaware that Noel is standing in the doorway trying to get their attention.
I like to think that I’m a positive person, but tonight I fear the worst. It had crossed my mind that when he first offered us the use of his tap, we had only a few plant boxes down the lane. Fill the watering can twice and you’d be done. Now though, while my earlier figure of 4 million might be easily refuted, there are way more than a few plant boxes.
In dry weather, we need an unbelievable amount of water. We do our best not to get it all in one place. Apart from the nuisance of the mud and the splashes that we bring, water isn’t free these days either.
And though Noel has never complained, (in fact he’s only ever encouraged us) if he asked us to sort something else out we couldn’t blame him.
I greet him as I walk through his front gate, “Hiya Noel”. The others turn around and Noel begins to talk. Here it comes.
“How are ye all? I wanted to ask ye about this”, Noel says.
Only now do I realise he’s holding something. He draws up a big red box that has been hanging at his side like a brief case. “Would ye have any use for these”, he asks.
We’re taken aback. In Noel’s hand is a brand new drill and jigsaw which he bought, at no small expense to himself, especially for Reimagine Cork.
He explains that he often saw us working across from his house, breaking up pallets, cutting wood and hammering flower boxes onto the walls and that he wanted to do something to make the work a little easier for us.
Having been involved with Reimagine Cork for a while now, this is up there with one of the nicest gestures I’ve seen yet and I felt dumb for worrying about the water. What an act of of kindness this was by Noel.
But this gesture is important in more ways than one. While the tools are fantastic, the positivity of people has been one of the driving forces of Reimagine Cork. Encouragement from people like Noel keeps everyone involved motivated and makes it all worthwhile. We cannot thank them, or him, enough.
It’s Saturday afternoon. Earlier, a small gang of reimagine volunteers, led by our resident plant expert John, set about doing a little bit of work in Noel’s garden. The lads did a bit of weeding and filled a large flower pot with soil and some new flowers.
What better way to show our gratitude for his wonderful gesture than by giving something back. Once again, thanks to the legend that is Noel from all at Reimagine Cork!