Planting Perennials

There's been a whole lot of planting lately. There's the new tree in our front yard as well as the tree, bushes, and annuals in Elena's garden. Maggie and I visited Elena's garden Wednesday night after the Boulevard School Ice Cream Social.

To Elena it was a tongue twister. She'd spend the week before talking about that the "ice cream show-shall". No one was more social than she. Somehow Elena would be on the playground with the other kids, in line for ice cream, and talking with parents all at the same time. It was if there were three of her there.

Each year at the social, the kids get a plastic cup of ice cream and their favorite toppings. They then run around and work off the boost of sugar while their parents keep half an eye on them while talking to each other. It was nice to hang out with other moms and dads while the kids cut loose on the playground and on the playing fields. The weather this year was perfect. Kim hadn't felt well and stayed home.

It had been a long day. That morning at ten we had been at Boulevard while Maggie and the first graders planted the annuals in Elena's garden.

Two hours earlier Maggie and I had been at the middle school so that Maggie could try out a couple of instruments to see what she'll be playing next year in fifth grade. She liked the flute and was able to make a bit of a sound with it so the band teacher agreed that that's what she will play.

We finished at 8:30. Too early to take her to school. Not much to do at home so we went grocery shopping. She needed cereal and asked for pizza bagels. Somehow this combined to make me forget that one the items I'd gone there for was bananas.

We stopped at home, put the groceries away, and picked up Maggie's glasses and Kim and dropped Maggie off at Boulevard. Before the ten o'clock planting, Kim and I had an appointment with the Shaker Schools Foundation to see how the Elena Fund was doing.

When Elena died, a lot of decisions were made quickly and by two people who were largely out of it. Given how incoherent Kim and I were, I'm amazed at how many decisions were made that were pretty good. When we went to the funeral home, the funeral director asked us if there was a place that we would like contributions to be made. Yes, there was. We hadn't set anything up yet though.

We thought that it would be nice to set aside money for the schools. Something to support art, music, and generally creative things. We didn't want to put too many constraints on how the money would be spent but Elena had loved her Elementary school passionately. We expressed that semi-clearly to Patti who did some investigative work for us. Somehow, between the time that Elena died and the time of the death announcement in the paper we had enough details to get started.

We thought we were planting annuals. To our surprise we ended up with perennials.

When the fund reached five thousand dollars we got a call from the foundation that it could now become an endowment. Basically, the interest would be spent each year and the principle would remain. People were generous beyond all expectation. When Kim and I went to the meeting Wednesday morning we were told that the fund had exceeded twelve thousand dollars. The schools would receive more than six hundred dollars a year.

As we understand it, each year teachers will apply for grants for special projects or needs that they have. We don't want to put too many restrictions on the fund, but for the first few years I'd like the money to go to projects in Boulevard because that's the time that Elena would have been in the school. After that, we've talked about making the funds available district wide. The teachers apply in October and the money is granted in November.

This is a flower that was planted once and will blossom for years.

At the risk of being tacky, I am including the information for the fund here again because some people have asked. Thanks to the generosity of hundreds (yes hundreds) of people this fund is in great shape and this is not a solicitation. If it offends you, I am sorry. Give locally to something in your own community or not at all. Her fund is: Elena Steinberg Memorial Fund c/o Shaker Schools Foundation, 15600 Parkland Dr., Shaker Hts., OH 44120

Published in: on May 26, 2006 at 4:45 pm  Comments (6)