It’s been quite an anxious start to the new year in my home. Prior to Christmas I had a relatively calm three months with our daughter, and I’d been lulled into a false sense of serenity and calm, all of which has now come crashing down!
Unfortunately children who have experienced a chaotic or traumatic start in life don’t easily accept that they are loved. Rather, when they feel very loved and very secure, they often also feel the enormous fear that things are “too good”. That these good times are sure to end. And so fear sets in.
My daughter confronts her fear head-on. She tries desperately hard to own and control her life outcomes. And the outcome she predicts, irrational driven by her fear, is that her life with us will end. As a result, I see a drastic spike in aggression, anger, rudeness, nasty and cruel behaviour – her way of pushing me away, therefore controlling her own outcomes.
As the days and then weeks pass, my resolve to parent her in a thoughtful, kind, loving way becomes more difficult. I feel the effects of her trauma personally, putting up new boundaries to keep myself safe, both physically and emotionally. But this is not the answer for children who respond to love and safety in such a fearful way.
To help myself I got out my sewing machine and started sewing some bunting to hang across the patio in my garden, especially wanted for my open-garden in July. I also jumped online and ordered my seeds, soft fruit plants and mushroom dowels for the growing season ahead. Small acts of kindness to myself so that I can breathe again and thereby help my lovely daughter.
I have set myself a new year intention to “consume” produce from my garden every day. Fruit, vegetable, herb or edible flower. As I’ve established a cutting garden this year I’ve expanded the list of “acceptable items” to include a bouquet of cut flowers. I feel like this puts the odds a little more my way to actually achieve the outcome!
My garden provides me with hours of happiness, positive endorphins for good mental health, gorgeous food and a beautiful private space. But I was starting to lose sight of the primary outcome – that of feeding the hordes and using everything I grow.
My worry is the “hungry time” when all the leeks and kale have gone, before the baby leaves appear in Spring. I’ve started filling this gap by making some pantry items. I received a beautiful book for Christmas called “Cornersmith – Receipes from the Cafe and Picklery”. I’ve not visited, the cafe is in Sydney, but my younger brother has and it was he and his partner who gifted the book to me.
As the cold weather was wreaking havoc with my chilli plants, I had a final harvest and had approximately 50 chillis to do something with. Their receipe for chilli jam appears to have been a success, I have two large bottles of jam, a little on the spicy side, ready to go! I’m hopeful they can fill perhaps a day per week in particular during the hungry time ahead.
I had a “wonderful” last-minute Christmas gift idea for my lovely daughter in early November. I know it’s now mid-January but I’ve just recovered from the madness!
Three full days of fabric cutting should have given me a hint of what was to come. Bearing in mind that I’ve only made 2 quilts to date – a 16 piece double bed quilt for mum and a baby quilt for a friend – why on earth I decided to sew a 500-piece quilt (from my own pattern none-the-less) just a month prior to the day of giving is totally beyond me!!!
The quilt’s kisses were fairly challenging to line up, I hadn’t thought about the degree of difficulty during the planning phase. But as a result I’ve learnt lots about fabric easing and stretching. I did make a crucial error on row 11 and cut one of my squares to fit the row prior – absolute learner error – disaster. So there is one line out of alignment – but so far the lovely little one hasn’t noticed, so no worries!
I had to put my sewing machine away for a couple of weeks to recover – but am now ready to start on the next project. Lovely to have time to sit and sew while the rain and snow fall outside, not worrying about what I should be doing in the garden.
I have received some stunning gardening books from my lovely family, for Christmas and during the previous year. With all the rain that has fallen in the UK over the last month I’ve very much enjoyed sitting indoors, reading and planning.
Sissinghurst, by Vita Sackville-West and Sarah Raven is brilliant (gifted by mum after we heard Sarah Raven speak at the Buxton Opera House). For cutting flowers, roses, planting combinations, scent and ideas. Vita amassed around 300 rose cultivars and species at Sissinghurst, many of them ‘old roses’, grown primarily for their scent. Through reading her book I have identified a number to plant in my garden, among them: Constance Spry, Fritz Nobis, Cardinal de Richelieu, Henri Martin, Charles de Mills and Duplex. And I’ve identified the locations, now only the hard work remains.
I received ‘The Gardens of Arne Maynard’ from my dad for Chrissy. Pictorially stunning. I spent the Christmas holiday week reading a chapter with my morning coffee. Luxurious. Yes, the gardens are professionally managed and exorbitantly expensive, however I still managed to identify plants and ideas that I can tailor for my own space.
I’ve also been reading ‘Edible Garden Designs’ by Jamie Durie. While I don’t love his style, he has lots of great ideas about vertical gardening and community gardens and there are pages about inspirational normal people who have gardened forever – and some of these stories and the photographs are wonderful.
Now, as the first few days of this new year pass, I wish for the rain to stop so that the many, many communities who have been so terribly impacted by the winter storms can return to their lives and homes and gardens. And I’m itching to put some of my plans into action. Until then, throw another log on the fire!