Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
I remember when I was little girl being really excited when my dad told me that we were getting an allotment (although he had to explain what that was!). As I sat on his knee he told me all about his plans for the wonderful things he was going to grow – potatoes, carrots, peas, runner beans, beetroot (I wasn’t very impressed with that one!), as well as fruit and flowers.
As we chatted I could see in my mind’s eye the neat rows of vegetables, the soft fine earth, the glorious colours, even the taste of the sweet berries on my tongue. I imagined myself helping dad to water them and, when it was time, to pick them and carry them proudly back to my mother to cook. It was all going to be great fun and taste delicious.
At last the day came when Dad signed the papers and took over the patch of land. I caught his hand as we walked along – I couldn’t wait to see the garden that I’d been imagining for so long. As we went through the gate, dad said “and here it is”. I stopped in my tracks, my face froze and tears filled my eyes.
Instead of the Beatrix Potter vision I had expected, all I could see was a jungle. The ground was covered in weeds, some almost as tall as I was, sharp prickly brambles and nasty stingy nettles. There were broken buckets and rubbish strewn everywhere. I couldn’t even see the earth and the trees around the edge blocked all the light out.
Dad laughed when he saw my face, telling me that it could all be put right with just a bit of planning and some work. “But where are you going to start?” I said, “it’s all such a mess”. He smiled and said “sometimes you’ve just got to start somewhere and then gradually it will all come together”. And with that he bent down, grabbed hold of a particularly large weed and pulled it out by its roots. I wasn’t convinced but he took me home via the ice-cream van so all was ok.
Over the next days, weeks and months dad went to the allotment every day, whatever the weather– whether it was before work, after work or on weekends. He dug and pulled, lopped and pruned and made a bonfire. He took advice from the wise old gardening expert who lived a few doors down, and accepted help from some friends.
Gradually, bit by bit, the land was cleared leaving clean, fertile soil and room for the new plants to be gently planted and nurtured to help them grow. We watered them and fed them, protected them from birds – and definitely talked to them. Until, a few months later that garden came to life with the plants and flowers blooming, the birds tweeting in the branches and the smell of healthy freshness. The sun shone down warmly, the bees hummed, and the rain left fresh, glistening drops on the leaves. We’d finally got the garden I’d dreamed of. It looked, smelled and tasted delicious!
“See” said dad “I told you everything would come together. All we need to do now is to keep weeding, keep planting and keep watering and all will be well”.
Wise man, my dad xx
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