Today I have been gardening.
Actually, what I have really been doing is cleaning up the mess our two chickens made of some potted plants.
There were some losses. Two baby mango trees are no more. They were the kind of hardy plants that spring up in the compost so I was expecting more from them, but even hardy plants succumb eventually to being scratched at, tipped out of their pot and then left on the ground to dry.
The way I see it, our chickens really abused the privilege we gave them of free-ranging for a whole weekend while we were away. Rather than stay annoyed with the girls though (I knew I had to let it go eventually) I took a long hard look at the whole dirty mess and suddenly realised that this small section of the yard could be anything I wanted it to be and I set about improving it.
This was a big deal for me. I have had strong anxiety issues in the past and everything that goes along with that. I have struggled with commitment and have at times felt like my house and all it's mess was out to get me - don't others feel like this though? I have also had the illogical idea that I couldn't start on my gardening until I had the whole house immaculately clean. Which, of course, never happens because I have a small baby and two little boys who like to be, well, little boys.
Fortunately, the house is starting to look like the kind of place I want to live in and the chicken destruction zone created the opportunity for me to dig in the dirt and create a little. Sometimes I feel like my current place in life as wife and mother has eaten up any opportunity to create something that is uniquely mine. I don't mind giving up everything for my boys, I think they deserve it, but I do miss doing art-classes. I miss going for walks alone with my husband and sometimes spending a whole weekend just laying around or discovering new places to eat. Finding new flavours of ice-cream and then eating the whole tub because we don't need to be a good example to small people.
As I was re-potting the baby avocado tree (another lucky compost growth) and planting the mint in an old metal bucket with holes poked in the bottom I felt a lovely confidence boost. I felt like this was MY garden. Uniquely mine to create in. I didn't need to wait for my husband (with the muscles) to come and lift anything. As I positioned each pot on a long shelf I had made I felt like I was applying paint to a canvas. This is not like putting clothes away that will be taken out and worn again. It was not like washing dishes that will be eaten off and re-washed a hundred times. Definitely not like cleaning the floor around the toilet for the millionth time because a small boy was busting and didn't quite make it.
I feel refreshed and regenerated. I'm still smiling just thinking about it. I think I am finding a new joy that I will be able to share with my little ones, but for now it's just for me.
And I still need to train these chooks to stay away from my pots when they're cruising around the yard looking for another dust-bath to add to their collection.