Dianne Keetch is a volunteer with Let’s Get Growing’s nature based therapeutic project. Here, she offer’s a quirky, personal insight to their work.
It’s ‘fit to freeze yer frock off,’ as one of the Peace Garden participants would say. And he’s right. My frock has never been so frozen.There is ice cementing the vegetable patch and snow shudders in the shrubbery.
The Let’s Get Growing group are made of hardy stuff and venture out like Nanook of the North, wrapped in an array of hilarious hats, colourful coats and lush, fleecy lined wellies. Those ancients among us may remember Nanook and his Inuit family battling the winter blasts, those not so ancient have a treat in store on You Tube.
There is an icy pie crust on the garden pond and I am concerned Casper dog might imitate Scooby Doo skittering, legs a flailing in all directions, break the pie crust and fall in. But Casper is a wise old dog and avoids his icy bath this month.
My usual inclination in this weather is to curl up on the sofa with a massive pot of tea, my laptop, a DVD and mobile phone to hand (has anyone noticed I didn’t mention the chocolate, no, I think I got away with that.) I love a log fire and cat in the lap. Jack Frost can work his magic on the windows but I am happy indoors in me purple slippers.
I can Skype with friends and family all over the world in an instant and not stir from my fiery furnace. I can stream or download a film, listen again to the Archers (that Rob is a nasty piece of work) or send pithy text messages to people who would prefer I didn’t.
It’s a miracle, it’s technological progress, a feat of human ingenuity. I certainly like to be in touch, to be seen to be capable of surfing the net, buying on ebay and using pinterest.
In the last few years however, I realise I have become an addict, addicted the toys that promise 24 hour entertainment, addicted to the means of finding the answer to any question in an instant, addicted to spending hours poring over my computer and addicted to the solitude.
I hate to admit it, but the first thing I do before I have my morning tea is to check if I have any emails or texts. Help, the virtual world is taking over my life!
To be frank, (who’s Frank, I will have to look that up on wikipedia) having lots of friends on Facebook, receiving messages, emails and texts makes me feel popular. And could you blame me for enjoying my addition? But, I ask myself, do I have a real connection with others, do I gain only superficial gratification, does technology serve to isolate me further and feed my addiction?
The Peace Garden at Minsteracres is an antidote to my addiction. My detox and rehabilitation rolled into one.
My phone is turned off and I have no means of communicating with anyone but the people in the garden. There is no computer, TV, i pod i pad or even radio. It’s like returning to a bygone era, and yet returning to the now.
We have the land and the weather to captivate us. We create simple pleasures and nutritious food. We try our best to be kind to each other. To be in the garden with my friends is my fix. I feel needed, I feel purposeful and in touch with people in a meaningful way. I have strong relationships there that mean a lot to me.
Subsequently I find I do want to be outside in frozen February in the ice and snow, there in the Peace Garden that Nanook might also recognise as home.