I sat quietly today on my back step with baby at breast. I watched the plants in my vegetable patch sway in a gentle breeze . . . the slow ripening tomatoes, the vivid green rocket and fragrant basil and the large bud of a sunflower ready to burst into bloom. My thoughts drifted and I recalled with a smile the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ . . .
Throughout my career in writing and media, which is a lifetime ago now, I used to tell people that all I wanted to do was be a ‘haus Frau and grow my own vegetables’. Although I loved my work, the all-consuming nature of it made me yearn for a simpler life.
I now live in a town smaller than my home town. I am a full-time mother and part-time office manager for our own business. I grow my own vegetables. I love my work. But ironically, my ‘haus Frau’ life is infinitely more complicated and I had no idea what all-consuming could mean until the birth of our three children.
During the slivers of time I have for myself I choose to spend them in the garden. I like walking around and looking at the plants closely. I examine the patterns on leaves, the curves of petals and look for creatures that might be living in them.
The garden has become an important part in my family’s life. It is a place to play, a place to explore and a place to learn. We are teaching our boys about growing food and they enjoy the food they have picked and seeing it on their dinner plate. Sometimes they actually eat it without a fuss. They dance in the vegie patch when they think I’m not looking. They pluck seedlings out and dig for worms. I think there is value in all of that; the value of knowing where food comes from and an understanding of how to produce your own.
I think of the garden as a little oasis, a retreat from the swirl of commitment around me where I am the central pivot. The garden allows me to gather the threads of my responsibility, to re-weave what stress has undone and to feel like I can tackle the daily monotony anew.
I am still not sure whether it’s the effort of child rearing or the repetitive nature of it that I find difficult to cope with some days. What I am sure of is that it would be much harder without somewhere like my garden to retreat to. I am lucky that my wish did come true; my life is much richer and meaningful. However, I still have the shock of that reality to reconcile. So be careful what you wish for, it may just come true and then there is even more work to do!
What about you? Do you have special place that you retreat to that makes you reflect on life and other stuff? Where do you find solace?