by Paul Fleischman
Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
So we've been watching the community garden slowly come together over time. Plants are blooming and eventually all the neighbors finally start to get along. Basically, they're living the community garden dream: fresh fruits, sharing their veggies, partying it up together. Life seems grand. So what's the worst thing that could possibly happen to make all this happiness stop?
Winter, that's what.
Yep, when winter hits Cleveland, it has the Gibb Street garden empty as can be. Plus, winters in Cleveland are extra long, so this means no more plants—and no more gardeners either. Zilch: "By November the cats were the only ones there" (13.5). After all that work bringing the garden together, the cold weather just covers it all up.
But finally, at the very end of the novel—we're talking the final sentences here, folks—the weather starts to turn around. It begins to get a wee bit warmer, and we're just hoping that neighbors head back out to the community garden. So when Kim shows up with her lima beans, Florence is pretty hopeful:
I felt as happy inside as if I'd just seen the first swallow of spring. Then I looked up. There was the man in the rocker.
We waved and waved to each other. (13.8-9)
Florence and her rocking chair friend are seriously giddy. And so are we. We don't get to see what the garden will look like the next year. Or the year after that. But we do get a teeny tiny glimpse at the cycle starting all over again. So we're thinking this ending just took a turn towards happy town.