That’s it, now I know I am old! I have just bought one of those kneelers that help you do the weeding. I do find it hard to bend and the kneeler means I can creak down to the earth and heave myself up again without the aid of a crane. I can also sit on it to take a break from planting. It makes life in the garden easier but it is a bit like a tartan shopping trolley- a sign of old age
That’s got me thinking about ageing. I have just turned 60, the new 40 so they say, but I have noticed I am disappearing from view. Do you ever get the feeling that you are being overlooked by younger people? In response I have felt the urge to dye my hair green, wear odd socks and swear in public libraries, so that I don’t go unnoticed.
Watching small children play, I wistfully think, ‘Oh I wish I could run like that again.’ And don’t the dentists all look so young? I am trying not to be ageist but I don’t know if I can trust ‘em with me teeth. I remember older people chiding me in my youth to look after me teeth, or was that Pam Ayres? But they were right; eating is not so pleasurable without a full set. And by the way what did I come upstairs for?
I am beginning to sound like my mum, although she would never swear. In fact, I think I am turning into my mother. Actually that is not a bad thing, she was a very creative woman, handy about the house, always making clothes and soup and decorating on a tight budget.
It was she that got me interested in gardening. We had raised beds in our small back yard. One day mum took us to the beach to collect sea shells to decorate them. We plastered the garden walls with cement and made intricate patterns with our sandy spoils. It was in those flower beds that we buried our pet cats, all called either Dinky or Kitty, who sadly got run over in the back lane. Their little bodies must have helped the flowers grow so abundantly.
Mum let us loose on the back yard garden, bad idea, for we picked the Fuchsia flowers and sucked out all the nectar. I remember the spent flowers strewn about the yard like confetti. The four of us overzealously pruned the laburnum tree each year. We knew about the poisonous seeds and kindly threatened to put them in each other’s tea. Unfortunately we also ruined mum’s roses by ripping off their petals to make perfume, which of course turned stinky after a day or two.
I don’t remember mum growing vegetables, but late in life she did buy an apple tree and she planted it in that back yard. So incongruent, a concrete back yard with an apple tree. But it did produce apples, much to our delight.
My mother’s influence on me becomes more clear as I myself age. I am indebted to her for the hobbies and interests I have. I admired her resourcefulness and today I find myself using the creative skills she taught me when I was a child.
I wish mum had known the Peace Garden. She would have found it a nurturing place where she could admire nature’s bounty. I imagine her picking the fruit and cooking a huge crumble. She would have marvelled at the trees and fungi at this time of year. I think she would have been interested in the construction of the Sanctuary too. She might even have tried some herbal tea to go with her jammy dodgers and I would gladly have lent her my new kneeler.