We’re moving house soon. There is nothing much fun about that, especially when the house we are leaving has been the family home for a decade and is the only place the children really think of as home.
Apart from all the stuff one accumulates, which is going to be a particular trauma for me [in case you don’t know, ADD people really struggle with throwing things out], today was one of the days of the garden. In truth, I have been having many days of the garden, but today was the first day that I involved the children—moving pots, helping to dig up beds of bulbs that have been producing so much joy for us [there’s no way I am leaving that stuff behind]. The family that gardens together…
Thankfully we are moving only a very short distance. Thankfully too, the house is basically the same size…only I am losing my garden. That said, COVID has been brutal for the plants I keep. I’ve lost all of my citrus trees, countless other fruit trees, most of my rose bushes, so many other things I shudder to think. With travel restrictions and my work life not being in the same place as my home, I had to hope for rain to come to keep my potted plants and garden plants alive. It didn’t really work that way. My SO cannot and could not be enlisted in support. I don’t even dare ask anymore as I know the answer. She likes to see it when it looks nice, but she has no time for the process, and unlike me, finds no joy in it.
That means, nursing things back to life, especially after they have so valiantly made it this far, has become a bit of a crusade [ie. Important, solo, labour]. And, well, that suits my personality. I love taking care of hurt things, broken things, wounded things…
Always when my children were growing up, whatever it was of theirs that broke ended up on my desk for repairs. My SO is the same. I am the family repair shop. Plus, I can’t stand throwing things out, the whole disposable culture thing doesn’t work for me at all. So, I fix stuff, or I keep stuff in piles and think I will fix it later.
Only the garden is different. Plants don’t ‘get’ later—when they need water, they need water.
Out in the garden, my kids did not enjoy this “togetherness” time one bit. Too much hard work. Actual physical labour! On the other hand, I just love it. There are few things as satisfying as being dead-tired after a day of back-breaking work in the garden, being so tired that you would almost just crawl. To be sweaty, covered in dirt, totally and utterly exhausted, but also have the pride of what was accomplished.
And indeed, much was accomplished. First, my SO said I don’t give her enough flowers. So, I went out and bought a ton of flowing plants and planted all of those, covering our front entrance with them. She was hand on her hips, “why are you buying plants when we’re moving?!” And me: “I bought them for you!” And she accepts that but also knows and says, “you bought them for you!” Rascal in action. Regardless of whose story you accept, we now have hundreds of different flowers in lovely terracotta pots on our front steps.
It is a joy to see those flowers as we come and go by day. Filled with flowers we get to enjoy the garden more because every flower out there is like a smile. One of my kids noted this about leaving this house as one of the things that will be missed, “I’ll miss looking out at the garden.”
The meaning of Home
What is home? Is it a building? Is it your furniture? Is it the flowerpots on the front steps? I don’t think so. I think it is memories, or the ability to cradle you whilst memories are created. My SO chose our new home. I didn’t see it before we committed to it, but we all got to see it the other day. It is a lovely home. Very different, and with very different, but very nice, warm energy. I really like it, precisely because of its difference. She chose well.
As an accumulator of stuff, I also feel that a house also dictates what stuff you need or want to have with you. That means that many of our things, furniture or otherwise, may not fit the new place. Thinking room by room, planning it out, negotiating choices with the family—which child gets which room, correcting imbalances that have existed the entire time we lived in the current house—these are all fun but frought tasks.
I love to imagine it all, to think ahead of what we might be stripping away. And, somehow I think it may be time to get rid of some of the junk I have hauled around all over the world with me. But it is still my junk.
We will see what I manage to let go of [and if you think it’s easy, I can struggle over scraps of paper. Literally.]. But what I know that we won’t be letting go of are the hundreds and hundreds of tulip bulbs we dug up today…nor the many potted plants that have been with us all this time. Today, with changed soil and newly fertilised, they will surely be stepping forward to their new surrounds with a similar sense of optimism. My plants are a bit like children, many children, and they do indeed whisper to each other, and I can hear them. And there is something about bringing living things along, bringing plants along, that gives familiarity and homey-ness just about more than anything else. And the tulips are now in the many pots of large flowering plants we are bringing. I can’t wait to see them flower next spring.