At the beginning of the year I moved from my 2nd floor flat to one on the ground-floor with a garden. Apart from the obvious and vital advantages of life without stairs to a person with limited mobility the greatest change and indeed joy has been the outdoor-space gained. In the old flat I had a pretty special view from my bedroom, of a green hill where foxes played and hundreds of gawking crows regularly gathered and swept up into the air as if at one command. I called it my Switzerland, and it felt almost as remote. Now I can get outside whenever I want.
Most of the garden-area has been laid out in pink and grey slabs of stone, which is just as well as I can’t manage a lot of gardening (yet), but along the fences grow bushes – forsythia, hazelnut, roses, ivy. For weeks I went through my small garden every day, stopping at every bush, and breathed with nose buried in the foliage, trying to sniff out each distinct scent.
I’ve got a chair right outside my kitchen-door, to which I can drag myself for a couple of minutes even on a bad day. The sun hits it in the morning and I often have breakfast out there, greeting the day with my bowl of fruit and yoghurt on my lap. I delight in the tiny white hairs on the stems of my one tomato-plant which grows in a pot right next to the chair. That same tomato-plant is host to several small spiders weaving magnificent webs between the stalks and a couple of days ago gave me its first ripe fruit – pure delicious tomatoness in every bite!
Most of my flowers grow in pots. The very first plant I bought was a small magnolia tree. I wanted that short burst of extravagant flowering right here in front of me. I’ve feasted on the spectacle of orange and red tulips whose pointed petals were like darting tongues of flames. There’s a steady lavish parade of bright-red velvety petunias, and the petals of the more short-lived delphiniums looked their most beautiful when fallen to the ground where they seemed like scattered drops of Klein-blue ink.
I tend to grab my pleasures in short bursts – but short-lived they are not, they have a kind of after-life in my mind. Some months ago, remember, when we had an almost summery time which August couldn’t replicate, I was extremely tired and still in my pyjamas late in the day, and when warm summer rain was falling down in heavy drops I got it into my head to dance in the rain and went outside and stood there getting drenched, not physically dancing but dancing inside, for about a minute or one-and-a-half, as long as I could stand, and then went back to bed happy.
I could mention further marvels: the rustling of winds in the huge old trees beyond my garden which I can hear even from within my bedroom, the passion flower climbing over the fence from next-door which has been blossoming for months, and on my side a morning glory (thanks, Helen B.!) which had one gorgeous gigantic sky-blue flower open for just one day this week.
For me it’s not so much about the joys of gardening but the joys of being outside, of experiencing the seasons directly after years of wistfully watching them either from my second-floor flat or through the windows of moving mini-cabs. The smell of green, the freshness of it, the literal breath of fresh air that I can take in almost daily now is truly wonderful. And I feel connected to nature again, finally.
(written beginning of September)
PS. Had breakfast outside this morning, after painful night, sucking in the moist green air.