HEART KINDLING

Little things that feed the flame

Spring in the Garden with a Child

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At long last, spring is finally here. Or something like that. If one had no calendar to check upon, it would be really hard to tell the season. Forget ‘four seasons in one day’ – it is more like 12 of them in a day here, each of the seasons getting a few rounds as a day goes by. Thermometer is not of much use either, because thirteen might mean gentle warm sunshine, or a cold northern breeze, or a lashing rain that will leave you soaking in no time. Today only, as an example, started with an astounding sunshine begging you to get out, however, it was not that warm once you did. As soon as I got my laundry out on the line, it had to start drizzling, of course. But I know this Irish weather by now – taking everything inside would be a big mistake, because the rain would stop the very same instant as you stepped into the house. So I defiantly left the clothes hanging in the drizzle, which, sure enough, ended soon, causing no real damage. Only when the skies got dark – and I mean really dark, the kind of dark that you are stopped in whatever you are pottering about in the house and think to yourself ‘what time is it? has the day really gone?’ – only then did I run out to collect my half-dried belongings. And so it lashed, persistently knocking on all the doors and windows, big heavy raindrops against the glass. And then it was sunshine again, and it rained, and it was sunshine again… And it was time for hail and.. did I hear thunder there? It all ended with a soft sunny evening, my daughter and I running on the wet lawn, making giant soap bubbles and checking on our flowering strawberries. And it is more or less like this every day lately. That’s spring for you this year.

Nonetheless, it is spring in the garden. I know virtually nothing about gardening. Up until we moved into this house, my entire gardening experience could be easily summed up in a few indoor flower pots, not all of which survived. That, and very occasionally helping my mother in our grandmothers garden. But that included me being told what to leave in the ground and what to pull out and mechanically proceeding with the given instructions. I love having a garden of my own, however. I love the idea of it. Ours is a usual terraced house in a suburban town, so the garden is tiny, most of it given to the lawn, the shed, and a paved eating area. And yet, there is outdoors space and there is some soil on the outskirts in which to plant things. That is more than I ever had. All my life I have been living in flats, apartments, dormitories. And now we have a little enclosed outdoor space! So I have been experimenting. Reading up a bit, but mostly just sowing or planting things and seeing what happens. A good bit of the stuff I plant is edible. There is no way I can be self-sufficient in food here: not enough space, definitely insufficient skills and etc. And yet, it is great, when cooking, to step out into the garden and cut some fresh rosemary or thyme. It is lovely to watch the seeds sprout and rise towards the sky, grow into little lettuce leaves, or sweet pea seedlings, or burrow down into the earth and produce baby-cheek pink radishes. There is some magic happening right under my nose!

Not to mention raspberries and strawberries. They pull this child of mine no less than they attract pollinating insects. It is great to see her pick fresh berries from a plant, even if occasionally they are not exactly ripe yet – waiting is a tough business for a three-year-old! My daughter is another huge reason why I love having this little garden. There is great pleasure in being able to open the back door and set her free to safely explore whatever takes her interest – be it sticks that she collects on her trips to the local shop and stores outside or seashells brought back from the beach, or bugs busy at work in the garden, or pebbles, or whatever takes her fancy. This spring she has also been involved in most of my sowing and now we have a beautiful ritual of going around the garden (and the windowsills) together and checking on how those seeds are doing and how many of them have already turned into seedlings and dug their way out of the ground and into the daylight.

A garden is great in spring. Even if you are as unskilled and unknowledgeable as me. And it is made even greater when you can share it with a curious child.

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My little helper transporting the newly bought dahlias to their new home 🙂

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