I moved house three months ago. Well, I should say, we moved house three months ago. We moved from a small, 70s built house with a very small lawn (2x3m, with a 1.5x10m run down the side) into a large, 60s built house with retrofitted double glazing, a catio (a patio that’s fully enclosed to allow cats outside time without them being free-roaming), three lawns, multiple edged and established (but overrun and very confused) gardens, a rose bush taller than the house, and two raised garden beds fenced off down the back. We have apples and pears, an olive tree (I still don’t get this one), so many magnolias of different colours, roses popping up out of trees, and a loquot. We also have a fig tree stump with a lone fig stubbornly growing on it. Oh, and a grape vine!
This garden is a mishmash of things and it is very overgrown with ivy and jasmine and weeds and I have never gardened before in my life. The closest thing I had to a garden before now is my small collection of succulents who, despite all neglect from me, have continued to survive.
Now I have an established and overrun garden to manage. And I never knew how much I needed it until I had it.
I grew up in a large, old, draughty villa with a 1/4 acre section and a veggie patch. There were trees I would scale all the way up until I was too “cool” to do so (around aged 15-16, I was a slow bloomer), a cinderblock I would use to contain any fires I lit just because I could, and an overgrown section down the back end of the garden that I could hack at with my trusty home made wooden samurai sword (whittled out of a branch courtesy of one of my friends).
My holidays were spent at the beach. We had a small, lockwood holiday home within 5 minutes walk of a quiet beach. There was no TV, no dialup internet or world wide web (in fact, some of this took place before those days!), and mobile phones were still a pipe dream. We had to make our own fun.
What I’m trying to express here is that I grew up in and around nature in every part of my life. I was a hippy child, a wild child – give me some rocks and I’d scramble up them faster than you could say “that’s a big rock”, and I would try to climb every tree. Most of the time I was even successful.
As I got older I withdrew from the outside more and more, finding solace for my teenage angst on the internet and the people there. I had an Angelfire Page – actually I probably had about five. I was onboard when MySpace first came out, and Live Journal. I was on Yahoo Groups and DeviantArt.
I stopped going to the beach for the holidays. I stopped going outside.
I moved into a tiny little cupboard of a room in an awful little apartment with only concrete and horrifically overgrown “gardens” to speak of. Then into a house with a single tree and a lawn you couldn’t even swing a cat in. Next up was a house with a bush back section and a small raised lawn, then apartments. I became “modernised”.
That little wild child who lit fires in the garden and ran on the beach and screamed into the wind because it was fun just … withered. And died.
Looking back knowing what I know now, I suspect a lot of that was to do with my fibromyalgia, the incredible stress of working full time in a highly demanding job, and the stress and anxiety of being with a narcissist.
Regardless, I neglected an important part of me, that little hippy girl, and it took moving to this house to realise it.
She’s slowly coming back, that dirt grubber, with every step I take on soil without shoes and every weed I pull out without gloves. With every time I sit in front of the open doors to the catio and breathe in the fresh country air and admire the green that creeps everywhere.
She is slowly coming back, and with her, I become more grounded. More robust and at peace with my life.
The importance of the outside is, to me, immeasurable.