Today a bee flew onto my fingers as I was drinking tea in the winter sunshine. Now, I am not afraid of bees - I happily co-exist with them in the garden and they buzz past my ears as I prune the rosemary hedge or the lavender - BUT, I have never had one walk on me before. Well, not without me screeching and flinging it off. Today I held my breath and let the bee crawl in and out of my fingers. I think it was curious about the blue flowers on my mug. I watched its tiny, wiggly, furry body, its questing antennae, and waited gingerly for a sting. But there was no stinging, only tickling, then it flew away.
In a novel, that would be a metaphor for a newly awakened sense of trust in the universe. In my actual life I was tremendously proud of my bravery. I let a bee WALK on me.
Then I spent some time contemplating some seeds that have recently started appearing in my yard. This is the first year I have seen them. They are like tiny, perfect eyebrows. Someone, somewhere, has planted an eyebrow tree.
In other garden news, I have spent the week removing all traces of summer. Due to spring laziness, or as I prefer to call it, the Better Late Than Never school of gardening, I planted my spring garden in January, which is the equivalent of planting in July all you Northerners. Planted seeds, mind you. Anyway, due to my, ahem, scientific experimentation, I can now assure you that planting zucchini, beans, tomatoes and basil in the middle of summer will still provide a splendid crop, as long as you are willing to wait for food until late Autumn. Oh, and only if you plant close enough to the house to avoid frost. Only the cherry tomatoes will ripen, but the others will slowly ripen in the laundry, or even faster in the fruit bowl next to the bananas. So next year, maybe I will plant in Spring (fingers crossed) AND in Summer, when the new plants will take over from the spent Spring planting. I still have about a kilogram of cherry tomatoes on the kitchen bench (in JUNE!) and the very last Grosse Lisse. Last week I used the last fresh zucchini. So there you have it. Extending the season through sheer laziness.
Here are the skeletonised remains of the beans. The baby lettuces growing up underneath them? Last Winter's lettuces that I allowed to go to seed in the pots in spring. I love accidental gardening. This week I will cut the bean plants down at ground level rather than pulling them up, so I don't disturb the lettuce. Then I will plant snow peas between the lettuce babies. Also planted the garlic this week. It has to be in before the shortest day, to get enough time to bulb up nice and plump to harvest at Christmas. So I just squeaked in.
More lovely garden goodness this week - I picked a load of apples from our trees. The leaves are nearly all gone, and the remaining apples are like baubles on a Christmas tree. I kindly share them with the birds. Wattle birds hanging upside down to peck at the apples in the tip-top branches of the apple trees make me and the cats very happy. The birds are framed beautifully in our second-storey front windows; I call it cat TV. Anyway, a week's worth of stewed apple. Yum. Such sweet apples, they didn't need sugar, just cinnamon.
And a friend came for morning tea bringing her home grown limes and mandarins. The mandarins were wonderful, tart-sweet, not bland like the bought ones. I will be impatiently waiting for another year before I have any mandarins, but there are oranges on my trees that I am keeping my beady, greedy eyes on. Not long to wait now.. faith is the substance of things hoped for.. I have great faith in you, my oranges.
One of the advantages of schooling over home schooling is that after the children go to school I can do outrageously BAD things without them knowing. Like balancing my breakfast and the laptop on the balustrade above the stairs while huddling over the heater. So this is what living on the edge is like..
Tell me, is daily life a constant struggle for you, or is it only me? Things that make me panic on the inside: making telephone calls, organising pieces of paper such as bills and hockey rosters, needing to buy essential items of sporting equipment or shoes, or book covers, or indeed any of the paraphernalia of daily life for the children. Organising ballet costumes. Aaargh. Following up tradies, or having them traipse around my house, however nice and useful they are. Shopping. Getting in the car again to go and fetch a child or pick one up. Going out, anywhere, ever. Making appointments. Yes, I am a disorganised hermit. Yes, I would happily never leave the house. Yes, I really do want to be Ma in Little House on the Prairie, because even though she had to hand-sew every stitch of her family's clothing and take the insides out of animals before cooking them over an open fire, she only went shopping once a year, and never had to drive the children to hockey.
Life is just way too complicated for me to get my head around most days, and I am continually tempted just to go back to bed. However, I have discovered that I do play a beneficial role in the community. Last week, instead of having my usual nap in the car, I actually went into ballet (because I absolutely HAD to, due to tedious but essential ballet business) and was earnestly telling one of my fellow ballet mums how amazing she is, as she sat there sewing an armful of diaphanous ballet costume, because if I had to sew any ballet-related costume, I would actually DIE, and then I told her why I was there, which was because I was shamefully disorganised and had messed up big in Balletland, and had to confess this to the ballet teacher. And she said to me, 'Oh, I have missed you. I always feel so efficient and talented when you are here.' See, I improve other people's self-esteem by my uselessness, thus rendering it useful. If I became super-efficient and good at things, it would make other people feel bad by comparison, and that would be mean.
I have also made another discovery. I often find myself doing these same things: suddenly and desperately needing a nap, a hot shower, cake or an Agatha Christie novel that I have read twenty five times already. I only just realised this week (because I am a bit slow), that these are all things I find intensely comforting, and that maybe, just maybe, I am using them as a substitute for dealing with whatever very uncomfortable thing I might be avoiding. So these last few days I have found myself gently asking why it is that I feel I need a nap, or to read The 4.50 From Paddington AGAIN. And the answer is usually that I don't want to write an important email, or ring the builder, or deal with an actual emotion. But then, I ask, well, what to do, now that I have admitted I don't want to ring the builder? I still don't want to do it.
And here is another revelation. People talk to each other about all this stuff. And IT MAKES THEM FEEL BETTER. I am rather an introvert, obviously, otherwise I wouldn't wish I was a hermit. But I generally don't act like one around other people. I am deceptively sociable and jolly. I listen well. People like to tell me things, and I love to listen and sympathise, and enter into their difficulties, and it often feels like I am connecting on a deep level, but it is mostly a one way street, because I don't tend to share back, or if I do, not about current difficulties, just past, resolved ones. My current problems I keep close, and ever so usefully, pretend they don't exist. And if I can eat enough cake and take enough naps, the comfort blanket works so well that I can say, 'Fine!' when anyone asks, and actually mean it. Clearly though, not fine. Daily panic. So I am resolving to discuss some actual problems with actual people. Even telling my fellow ballet mum about my stupidity helped. All those old cliches turn out to be true. A problem shared really is a problem halved. And often, the problems I seem to have.. make other people laugh. So, therapy for everyone really..
Tired, but determinedly cheerful mother of four. One grown up son (The Boy), one grown up daughter (The Girl), two girls at home, Rosy (16) and Posy (11). Trying to buy a little less, make a little more, live a little lighter, not mess up the children too much..