Life is better with a garden

27 Apr

On April the 7th, a sad thing happened. Our large European family had to say goodbye to our Oma. Having migrated to Australia in the late 50’s, she is a symbol to me of endurance, perseverance and resourcefulness. This woman truly was resourceful. She could probably coax a garden to thrive from the cracks in her pavement. Sometimes she had nothing. Not nothing. Less than nothing, because there were times (with 8 kids and a struggling husband traumatised by life and the war) that she was really hard up. She had her dark phases but still she thrived; she was robust, as put by her GP when at 80 years old she walked the 5 kms into town for a checkup appointment. In her latter years she seemed to bloom into a bright spring flower.

My cousin and I visited her house after the funeral. It was nothing like it had been when she was living there, just an empty shell like her body had become. But we saw evidence of her life that comforted us. Cheerful paintings of the Mediterranean. A ceramic pie dish ready for a pie. Herbs and seeds drying out on the bench for future use. And a prolific garden which she clearly tended with dedication and care, despite being 81 and in need of an oxygen tank (which she called “her little doggie”, as it followed her around everywhere on a lead). Her positivity and warm approach to life regardless of her struggles encourages me to face her departure with thankfulness and a bright heart. We used to joke that the Grim Reaper would never dare knock on her door, as she’d most likely tell him off and reprimand him for having “dirty shoes when I just swept the porch”. Yet she met this Challenge with the same peaceful embrace that she had met many other of life’s challenges. So I am proud to be her kin. I just had to write in that little tribute to my roots before proceeding.

Since Oma’s passing, I have turned into some kind of jam making, olive curing, herb drying, garden dwelling machine. Not machine as in robotic and unfeeling. As in… I just don’t know from where I’ve developed this never ending enthusiasm for homely tasks. Not that I wasn’t this way before, but it now seems all I can do to fight my urge to plant broccoli. The only slight challenge in the face of my desire to grow things (on the cusp of winter of all seasons) is that I live in an apartment. It’s not a huge dilemma, I’ve been growing the odd citrus tree and occasional herb in pots for years. But now that I’m tempted to bury my fingers further in the dirt, I’m flirting with an interesting challenge (one I am sure my Oma would wholeheartedly endorse). How much can I actually grow on my balcony?

It’s a question I asked myself after my husband passed me some inspiration (after seeing the renewal of my enthusiasm) in the form of a segment by Peak Moment. It’s well worth a watch, as the measures this gardener has taken in order to become more self-sufficient is remarkable. While not everyone can implement all of her measures (such as myself, an apartment renter), even adopting some changes would change a person’s lifestyle.

So let’s see! The broccoli, garlic, onions and peas go in this weekend. I’m interested to see how many pots the Body Corporate will let me get away with before they come a-knockin’. Since my curiosity currently stands as a flirt and hasn’t proceeded to become the all out serious deal (which it may yet become), I’m keen to see what will come of my extreme challenge. Either way, there is one truth we could probably all take as a lesson from my Oma. Life is better with a garden.

Or, more philosophically; When you are challenged, hard up, overcome and pressed, secure your roots deep into the ground for nourishment and warmth and turn your leaves to the sun.
Thanks Oma.


One Response to “Life is better with a garden”

  1. Kat April 27, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Precious Chelle, I’m so sorry for your loss. But i am so thankful for your life. May your thumbs be green and your sunshine be warm always.


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