Saturday, April 14, 2007

Our growing companions

Saturday Cuppa: Ginger and Lemongrass, for clarity

In search of my mother's garden I found my own
~ Alice Walker

I don't know if there is anything that compares to the pleasure of smelling your newborn baby, or being wrapped in the tender arms of your soul-mate all night long; but having my hands in fertile soil, letting it fall loosely between my fingers as I sieve it tenderly before planting seeds, comes a pretty close second.

Transformed by Spring sunshine, I feel the emergence of my second self as I sit amongst the new green shoots all desperately reaching towards the light. When the sun shines, being in the house feels like a prison, the garden feels like heaven. I want to spend every waking moment soaking in the sunshine, playing amongst the plants, listening to bird song. The rest of life can take a running jump when I'm pottering outside.

As a child, I learnt about the art of companion planting from Mrs Green Fingers ~ aka my mum! Thirty odd years ago, to even suggest such a thing as companion planting would have raised eyebrows. Mum had no qualms about planting garlic alongside her roses. She often planted the same species of tree in groups of 'three' so they had company. Bless her! My mother always planted according to the phases and signs of the moon. It's no exaggeration to say her garden truly looked like paradise, while the gardens of the neighbouring properties often looked barren.

The young girl in the house of her mother is like a seed in fertile ground
~ Monique Wittig

In my garden I avoid mono planting…no long rows of lettuce, but patches of them, with marigolds and strawberries tucked in between and all around. And it's all very well having a herb garden, but dill and fennel are arch enemies…so dill gets to camp in the potato bed and they love each other to bits! And they're both happy if broad beans want a ménage à trois. Carrots and onions snuggle side by side, while tomatoes and basil do their thing. Although I have vegetable beds, the truth is everything is a mix 'n' match game. Herbs, flowers, fruits, berries and vegetables live in harmony, growing alongside, and above and below each other, with their needs catered for as best as I humanly can. The truth is, some prefer more light than others, some need damper soil for their roots while other plants like pretty crap soil! More often than not, one plant will protect another from insects by its scent.

Humans could learn a lot from plants ~ especially plants grown in harmony through companion planting.

In my search for like-minded people with whom to share my life, I often question the need for similarity and diversity. It is instinctive to flourish when we're well supported. For some of us, that support inevitably comes from being around similar people, and yet others need the variety, the stimulation, the duality of something a little different. Some plants seek shade or shelter and just as melons and pumpkins thrive in the shade of sweetcorn, so do some shy people thrive in the apparent shadow of a sunflower. Perhaps, though, the sunflower is all the more tall for the shadow at its feet?

Regardless of our particular preferences, what we all seek is harmony. It seems a strange irony then, that many people in our culture have never truly experienced such harmony. I'm often amazed when I go to town just how rudely couples speak to each other. And this is their beloved? I wouldn't want to be their enemy!

Harmony is something we learn about in the womb. Our mother's energy feeds us every second of our gestation. Is it a food of love, nurturing, happiness and joy or is mother in a constant state of anxiety? Is she fighting with father, numbed out in front of tv or having an affair because she's bored with our dad?

When we emerge Earthside, fresh from Divinity's Arms, thank God we have the veil drawn over our tender being, because I think almost all of us would opt out of this journey we call Life before we take our first breath. How often is a baby truly welcomed into this world in a way which befits her Divine Heritage? Instead, more than a quarter of babies are cut from their dark, warm, water womb and pulled, without warning, into bright lights and gravity. We wipe their eyes, jab them with Vitamin K, swaddle them in harsh fabrics, pop them on scales because the world will end if we don’t weigh them!!, and something as innately bonding, harmonious and loving as being in mother's arms somehow doesn't register as important. If this is our welcome to Earth, as played out in most modern day births, then how do we expect people to live in a state of Grace, of harmony and love?

And if the newly arrived soul thought birth was bad, toddlerhood isn't much better, at least not in our culture. The number of little arms I've seen nearly ripped out of sockets because a parent didn't know how to 'deal' with a tantrum is more evidence of disharmony. My kids had tantrums too, don’t get me wrong. I learnt, though, that they serve a purpose, other than to wind mum or dad up like a spring coil!

Toddlers don't need fluorescent lights, they don’t need to be taken shopping when they're tired, they don't need to have their needs put last. Toddlers aren't designed to sit patiently in cafés while parents sit for hours over coffee anymore than they're cut out to stand in a bank queue.
Pretty simply really, but it can take a while for adults to realise this, if they ever do.

If a toddler needs to get on the ground and scream and wave limbs around, then, from my experience, the best thing a parent can do is TOTALLY ignore everyone who is staring and let the child tantrum. It'll all be out of their system and harmony will return.

What often happens, however, is the parent becomes a monster, physically shakes the life out of junior, gives them chocolate or some other processed food to shut them up, not realising a bunch of white sugar and e-numbers is a perfect ingredient to raise the decibels ..and the potential for harmonious resolution is replaced by fury, anger and disrespect.

Is it any wonder, then, that children grow up into adults who don't know how to listen, how to be, how to share, how to honour, how to respect? When I see a parent yelling at a child or a man yelling at his partner or vice- versa in a way which doesn't honour either of them, I'm always transported back a generation.

Nobody grows up with lack of respect for another human unless those values weren't modelled in childhood. Please, don't ever shrug your shoulders and say "I'm just a mother". There is no sadder phrase. The future of humanity relies on mothers. Can't you feel how important and necessary good mothering is for shaping the next generation?

The plants in my garden live in harmony, supporting each other while having their needs met. How are YOU supported in life? Do you support someone else? Does it nurture both of you?
We can not be wholly fruitful and abundant if the basic needs of love, trust, harmony and kindness aren't met. Wiggle your bum over a little, find another patch of soil to grow yourself in, seek shade if you need it or reach towards the sun. Dampen those roots and reach up those leaves to the Light. You, your babies and children depend on your wise growing choices. Unlike the plants in my garden which rely on me for their growing conditions, you are entirely responsible for your growing environment and the companions your keep.

What the daughter does, the mother did.
Jewish proverb.

In one's family, respect and listening are the source of harmony


Harmonious Living said...

Feeling the spring warmth and light softening and opening your soul into deeper sharing and expression. Felt truly nourished by the last few blogs you have shared. thankyou.

Sarah said...

Dear Veronika,
Been meaning to read your blog for a while, and what wonderful stories you tell-thankyou for sharing them with us. My heart goes out to you and your children. Letting them do their own choosing re:school is 'bending the bow' but it is giving them their choice. I hope they are enjoying it. Schooling questions for my own 2 year old spring into my mind everyday, do I HE, Steiner, local, private..where will we be/ we choose where to live because of our schooling needs..I have time to think about this and reading your blog has helped me with this.

Loving the gorgeous weather and wanting to be outside playing in the forest/park/garden with my daugher everyday!

Also I love seeing that green envelope on my doormat, so if you go weekly....!