It feels like the sun hasn’t risen in months. It makes a shy appearance around 9am, skulks around outside the window for a wee while then disappears again around 3.30pm. I don’t own a S.A.D light but I really wish I did. I read about a special meet-up the other day where people go do yoga under an enormous sunshiney lamp. I’m not so sure about the yoga, but some artificial daylight sounds just great round about now.
While sorting through my incredibly disorganised blog material folder (I don’t know why, but it would appear I do not afford my digital files the same care and attention as I do my paper ones), I came across a bunch of photos I took in the summer time with the intention of writing about my mum and her magic green fingers. I found the blog post abandoned in my ‘drafts’ dookit yesterday and, even though I’m a couple of seasons out of kilter and my thoughts are out of date, I want to share them in the hope they might inject a teensy bit of life back into an otherwise sluggish, winter-weary me.
Even when I was little, I knew my mother was mostly at her happiest when she was shuffling around on her knees, trowel at the ready, through dirt and soil, sifting out stray stones and plucking out weeds. She seemed happier still foraging around in woodland gathering wild flowers and picking crab apples and brambles she would later blitz into tasty sauces. For a long time though, she was gardenless. With no patch of green of her own to look after and unable to wander in the forest quite so much, she paid extra attention to her beloved house plants. ”It’s like a jungle in here”, my dad would grumble as he emerged from behind a thick wall of flowering Busy Lizzies. ”It’s like a jungle in here”, he’d gripe as he swatted away the leaves from the enormous spider plant that tickled his head as it dangled from the kitchen shelf. When he marched my sisters and I into his bedroom one day and pointed at a yuka plant my mother had somehow managed to nurture to the size of a fully grown palm tree, we had to agree that it was, a little bit “like a jungle in here”. And then there was the cheese plant. Brought back to life by, I can only presume, a combination of my mum’s enthralling conversation and whatever the hardcore plant food was she secretly smuggled from Bolivia, we had to navigate round/through the folliage like David Bellamy just to change the channel on the tv set.
My mum has a garden of her own again. She plants the seeds, she grows ‘em. She digs them up again, moves them around, plants them again and watches them get bigger. Round and round she goes, planting, growing, planting, growing. ”Maybe one day the garden will be finished and we’ll be able to sit out”, she’ll say. But where’s the fun in that? This, this right here, is a ‘working garden’. And I love it. Here are some of the things that live there. Much to my mother’s horror, most of my favourites are weeds.
My family had a caravan on a site in Ayrshire. I loved it there. Between the ages of 0 and 12, I spent all my free time there with my mum. It’s probably a good job I can’t drive since I’m quite sure I would probably have been served some sort of order to keep me away from there by now. ”You don’t own a caravan here Mrs Maclennan. Your family haven’t been holidayers here for 18 years. Please go home and please stop harassing us”. Hm.
One time, while I was playing with my friends (climbing trees, rolling down hills etc., etc.), I spotted my mum far off in the distance. She’d been walking in the woods. As she got closer and I could see better, I knew she was wearing her skin tight blue jeans, her wellies and her coral reef cardigan – although it hadn’t been christened ‘the coral reef’ yet. I think at this point, I referred to it as her ‘bear cardigan’ because it was big and fuzzy. I could see she was humphing great armfuls of daffodils. As she got closer still, she started to smile at me and kind of waggle her head – y’know, like you might do when you see someone you know but you’re not *quite* close enough to speak to them yet. You kind of gesture with your face or your hands or something. I’m sure she would have waved if she could but of course she couldn’t due to the 10 kilos of flowers resting on her forearms. With sticky willy stuck in her hair, mud on her knees and weed fluff all trapped in her cardigan, she was quite a picture! At the time, I was a bit embarrassed. Being about 8 – maybe 9, I was all, “Oh lord, here comes my mum… Would you just look at the mess she’s gotten herself in. She’s just so embarrassing” (though I probably didn’t say those exact words. I don’t talk like that. Never have.). Now though? Now that picture is one of my very, very favourites and I’m glad it’s stuck in my brain gallery. Not only that, but 20 odd years later, and I would KILL for those damn jeans.
Me? I can’t grow nothin’. I’m just pleased not to have destroyed the Busy Lizzie my mum gave me when I moved into my house. Eight years and going strong! Well – maybe not going strong so much, but it’s not dead. This summer, Garry bought me a window box. Despite my lack of gardening know-how, I do love the idea of tending to window boxes. I’m just not that great at actually tending to window boxes. The box came filled with pretty flowering pansies. Once they died, I did nothing with the box. I look at it on the ledge now and again. I enjoy examining the dirt and debris that magically just appears in there. I don’t know where it comes from. Imagine my delight, when I peeked my head out of the window one night to spot a wee crop of mushrooms popping up in one corner! Mould, decay, rot – say what you will. I think they are very sweet.