We would walk away from the boisterous, bumping and noisome play of the other children; Elizabeth Cole and I. We would head for the quiet corner on the far side of our country state school building, where nobody would disturb us. With barely a word said between us we would fossick amongst the scant vegetation, gathering fallen bark, interesting leaves and tiny flowers. Then, having found the perfect nook between the roots of an old tree, we would build a palace. A palace for the fairies.
First, we propped and balanced the tiniest of twigs into the form of minute chairs; seats for the gossamer covered behinds of those little people. Then tables of the same would emerge. All the while we would use our bodies to shelter our fragile creation from the winds. Beds were made from dried oak leaves, curved just so to cradle a petite body. The pillows were tufts of moss or lichen carefully plucked from their natural habitat and the fruits of an Irish Strawberry tree, halved, became cushions to decorate with. So delicate was our palace that we would have to work from inside to out; only building it in once the interior was perfected. Slabs of fluffy paper bark would make a roof balanced between the roots of the tree and intricate weavings of twigs and sticks formed the front wall. Finally, we would gather the fallen pearl-like flowers of that same Irish Strawberry tree. Ever so carefully we would perch the individual little flower baubles at the top of the finest twigs we could find and create a jewel lined avenue of lanterns to light the way to the door of the awaiting palace.
Wonder, pure wonder. As children, we found it in the simplest aspects of Nature and it inspired us; it inspired us to make more wonder. We looked, we truly looked, at what was in our environment and we were fascinated by it. The curve of a tree branch, a surprising vein pattern on a decaying leaf, even the pretty but reeking flowers on the onion weed deserved our reverence! And though we marvelled at Nature, we didn't consider ourselves separate from it. We touched everything within reach, just to see what it felt like; weren't “lambs-ears” a joy? We tasted and smelt to our hearts content. We flexed chubby little hands in the mud, rolled tree sap into gems and sheltered in forts built amongst the trees. We were in our growing, stretching little bodies and we feared little; for our environment was magic and so were we.
Magic and wonder, I want more of it in my life. I want to feel joy at the simplest things. I want to be present in my body and peaceful in my mind. And so, I work with flowers, I grow things. I love chilly mornings and dew drops on peppermint geranium. I squeal like a child when a seed that I have planted starts to shoot. I sleep soundly at night having dug, shovelled and hefted in the fresh air of the day. Enveloped by the heady scent of a daphne bush or buoyed by the elegant form of blossoming magnolias, heralding the end of winter; I find it hard not to feel wonder and hope. The garden is the architect of my happiness. I always thought that playing in gardens was a way to escape reality but I am coming to see more and more, that it is about returning to reality. It's about returning to who I want to be. It's less about the flowers and more about how I am a much better person when I am surrounded by them. The lessons of all the gurus in the world, take place of their own accord when I am working in the garden.
This is what I want to contribute to the world; magic, wonder and happiness. I experience these things, myself, by working with flowers and in gardens. And though being a gardener puts me firmly in the present, it is actually an activity for the future. The process of growing (as we all know) can be a slow and humbling one but it is a worthwhile one. I hope that one day I can create a garden that brings as much solace and joy to others, as some of the gardens I have known in my time. In the meantime, I will plant some seeds and give thanks for wintery afternoon light glowing through the delicate petals of a hellebore.
By Lindsey Myra
Lead article published in “Spoonful” zine, ed.8