Thursday, May 27, 2010

Green with Envy

The garden longing returns....

Our new urban world seems to want to torment us with garden thoughts, wishes and memories of our old garden in St.Albans. It was 91 degrees yesterday, too hot for a visit to the park. A perfect day for after school fun in our old back garden, dancing through sprinklers. I can picture my son run, dive and tease the rainbow of water, with an equal desire to miss the cold water and to dance in the middle of it's playful spray. He would run at full speed down the water slide, grinning from ear to ear. Without a care in the world and sometimes, without any modesty.....whipping off his uniform, down to his bare skin.

I throw open the big windows of our apartment to let the air in and stand and stare at the Hudson River. The view doesn't inspire me today.

I go to a photography exhibition at my friend's lower east side penthouse. The exhibition was inspiring, her deck with a garden (yes, ACTUAL grass) with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge and her swimming pool, with a view of the Empire State Building made me feel sick with envy.

I go to do the school pick up. My daughter comes out of school with her pride and joy, a little pot plant that she nurtured from a seed as part of her 'Plants and Nature' social studies curriculum. "Mummy, Mummy, I know all about growing plants, can we plant a miniature garden on our windowsill?". I picture all the bulbs, shrubs and trees that we all planted together as a family in our old garden. I hear her say to her teacher with pride, while she is staring intently the ant farm and worm compost in her classroom, "My Daddy used to kill all the slugs, ants and worms in our old garden, he didn't like them because they ate his plants. I would help him by hitting them on the head with big stones". I can see her, crouched down, her legs so little, her bottom was touching the path, whacking these poor little garden creatures with scary ferocity and focus.

So, we go to the hardware store, go home, throw open the window again and plant our windowsill garden. Every morning, after breakfast, she waters her garden and asks the eternal question, "When will they flower?". I look at the garden and will it into life.

Regular readers will know that it is about this time that I turn the negative into positive. So, here goes. I'll give it my best shot.

Whilst we are no longer masters of our own green oasis, we have become borrowers of others. In the autumn of last year we planted some bulbs in a public garden in our neighbourhood. It has become part of our routine to walk past it and pick out which brightly coloured friend belongs to us. It is nice to know that we have added something to the New York scenery. Then, a few weeks ago, we joined some friends to help 'green up' a park in Chelsea. We spent the afternoon digging, planting, spreading compost with friends and complete strangers. As we worked as a team, bonded and toiled, local residents and passers-by stopped to talk to us, thanked us for making their park nicer, took pictures and smiled at the sight of New Yorkers who give up their free time to make this city greener. My son still talks about 'his rose bush' in Chelsea, so whilst Clement Moore Park may belong to Chelsea, there is a little piece of it that belongs to us too.

Today I am packing to get ready for a trip to Maine to stay with friends at their country house over Memorial Weekend. I am overjoyed at the plans afoot for the kids. Exploring and building dens in their wood. Pottering on the river in their boat. Bar-b-ques and garden games. So, again, when life moves and creates a hole. Somehow, something comes along to fill it. Friends. And even better than that, friends with a garden!

yours, with dirt under the nails of her perfect Manhattan manicure

Torie B

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