A woman dreamed of having her own garden. She pictured herself planting and tending flowers of all shapes and sizes. She hoped her borders would brim with colour and fragrance, laced with creepers displaying exotic blooms and a winding path through blossoms humming with wildlife.
When she moved in to her forever home, it was nothing she had hoped. The garden was sloping, the soil challenging and the wind whipped off from the sea. As much as she loved her own precious patch of land, she quickly realised her dream of a flowering utopia was impossible, out of reach and unattainable.
In the early days, she toiled to tame the land and struggled to find a rhythm to her life. She woke early and fretted about how she could tend the barren landscape so that it would become the beauty she had once dreamed.
Some days, all she could see was a wasteland, void of sweet smells and the vibrancy of life. She struggled to even stand by her fence and look beyond her borders to the apparent extravagance and ease of the outside world’s greenery.
It was too painful.
Every day, she strove to work the land. Dainty flowers could not withstand the severe elements but with hard work and persistence the landscape slowly changed. A rhythm to her world began to take form.
One day, she gazed at her garden, with its hardy vegetables and fallowed ground and truly marvelled at its beauty. In a moment, she recognised the woman she had become and how she had changed.
Friends would visit, bringing armfuls of beautiful flowers. And as much as she wanted to celebrate the beauty of her friend’s gardens, sometimes tears stung her eyes and her heart-ached with an absent ‘what if’ world. Their tales and celebrations were too hard to hear and although she was pleased for their joy and beauty, the contrast to her own opened a wound of pain.
For all the beauty she saw before her, she still found herself hankering for the garden she had expected to enjoy. It wasn’t that she ever wanted to leave her precious patch of earth. She knew its intricacies, idiosyncrasies and loved its unique beauty with a passion she had never known. It was a place she had tended and loved for years but that deep sense of loss she once felt, was like a scar on her skin. The well-meaning tales of her friend’s life aggravated the deep wound sitting under the surface and the pain could feel as real as the day she moved in.
The fruit and bounty of the garden required long hours of labour.
She lived with early mornings, late nights, sweat and drudgery. At times the days felt long and relentless. Each day pulling weeds, protect saplings and her body began to suffer.
After one particularly long, cold winter, her aching back and groaning bones were close to giving up when there was a knock at the door. There on the doorstep stood a friend. Instead of an armful of envious flowers, she bore the weight of heavy duty gardening tools. The woman’s face relaxed with a smile as her soul sighed with relief.
She needed help.
With encouragement, she began to use the help of others to manage some of the back breaking work. This freed up time to stop and enjoy the glorious beauty of her garden.
Eventually, she was able to leave her own land and visit other gardens, enjoying their beauty but mostly she enjoyed resting in her land and savouring its beauty, without the comparisons of the outside world.
Then a time came when the fruit of her labour resulted in produce; tangible and nourishing. Friends came and sat round her table. Together they told tales and feasted on the bounty of the once barren landscape.
Suddenly she realised that although the flowers of her friends were beautiful, easier to tend and they certainly had less toll on their bodies and energy, this challenging land had produced an incredible, unforeseen and abundant feast. She continued to work hard; the early mornings didn’t get easier but she began to see abundance where she had once seen desert.
Her own precious, unexpected garden had produced a feast of flavours she never would have experienced if the easier option of flowers were available. It was a feast that not only she could enjoy but her whole community.