Yesterday, I watered Avalene’s garden. I was alone there for the first time, because she died last Monday. She was 85. I feel sad that I can’t garden with her again. I always smiled in anticipation when I was driving to garden with her. She loved gardening and was fun to garden with, we laughed, she engaged me with her beautiful full smile, conversation, talk of her family, daughters named from the garden – Primrose and Marguerite, her son, a granddaughter in Great Britain.
Avalene’s garden was full of history….well over 55 years of history. Some she shared with me, of beloved plants, difficult plants, plants given to her by her daughters, cuttings given and found. She called me when she began to suffer lots of pain in her hands. She said she needed me so that together we could do the garden jobs she wanted to do, but couldn’t quite manage. But never did she give up. She stayed determined to always do some gardening beside me, and together we’d wheel the bin over, she’d carry plants, water, do as much as she could, while directing me. Always excited and grateful when I would bring a few plants, cuttings, offerings from my worm farm.
I remember the day Avalene found the tiny green frog, on her Strelitzia. She was very excited, as she hadn’t seen him, (perhaps her?) for quite a while. She told me to be very careful not to disturb him and maybe he sensed his safety, as he stayed unperturbed while I pruned near to him. I think of and immediately smell intense honey scent of alyssum..purple, white, pink, and some in between. Is there a specially sensitive part of our brain that remembers the scent of flowers? Does anyone know that? Please let me know if you do.
So it was sad, being there alone. Avalene’s spirit is still there though, in the mix of sweet peas, passionfruit, lettuce, chilli bush, blue plumbago, coleus, white crocus, curry plant, pink and yellow Star above Star Camellia, pink and purple bromeliads, brunsfelsia, apricot geraniums, hippeastrums, so many more. A garden as practical, as many faceted as its owner. I picked bright red chillies as a memento.
I plan to take some cuttings of her Camellia, Geranium, Banksia Rose, for her family. Then I thought of my own family, my beloved Daughter, living in Great Britain, who left to go home again only a short week ago. I thought of the lovely and varied time we had together. I also mourned her leaving, as I watered.
The garden is a good place to mourn. And a good place for comfort. Gardening is a continuous cycle of endings and beginnings and who knows which is which. Plants finish a flowering season, but are no less beautiful when deciduous or in seed. Seeds are hope and promise of more of life to come. A new plant with many possibilities – a different hue, size, flower shape. Or perhaps sown in a different place? In the Garden is always hope. Avalene’s funeral service reading had 2 lines that brought tears, yet at the same time comfort, thoughts of the future: ‘ Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her, Or you can be full of the love you share.’
I think about Avalene’s Funeral , where we gathered to honour and celebrate her life. I learned many more things about her, understood what an inspiration she was to her whole family. I admired her, still more. I ask myself, do I live my life in such a way that I will be missed and honoured as much as she was. Now, there’s something to think on. I learned that she went on road trips only a few years ago, with 2 other women, to Darwin! On the road trips they loved listening to “Bright Side of the Road” by Van Morrison. As we walked out from the Garden Chapel where her funeral service was held, we listened to that song, and felt lighter, somehow.
This is the poem written on the back of the order of service:
“Into the freedom of wind and sunshine
We let you go
Into the dance of the stars and the planets
We let you go
Into the wind’s breath and the hands of the starmaker
We let you go.” (Ruth Burgess.)
On Saturday, I saw ‘Tree of Life” with 2 dear friends. Gosh! we talked for 3 hours afterwards-OK, not all about the film. But surely themes inspired by that…Love, loss, death, dating, food, dancing……I liked the film’s lack of dialogue, I thought it was like being in the garden with someone- where sometimes silence is more eloquent, more able to provoke thought.
In the film I enjoyed how we looked upwards through the trees branches, and looked down through the branches from above. I felt the film was perhaps partly about out our innate need for connection with nature – for comfort, solace, for answers.
Crikey’s Review of “Tree of Life” said “tantalisingly imperfect” and I will partly borrow that – Mystical, eloquent, sparse dialogue, tantalisingly imperfect- that’s my description.
How did you feel about ‘ ‘Tree of Life?’ How did you respond?
Soon I will take afternoon tea with Alzira. I’m taking Thai Rice pudding….OH! The voluptuous smell of Cardoman as I stirred slowly. I could not resist eating a spoonful, OK maybe a few more!
Cardoman is such a mystery…it smells a little like eucalyptus when seeds are intact. Then when crushed and cooked, completely change to a smell that’s sultry, powerful, spicy……….
100g/3 & 1/2 ounces arborio rice
1 cardamon pod, split, and seeds crushed.
300ml/7 fl Oz coconut cream
150ml/10 fl oz water
2 tablespoons honey
coconut flakes and 1 tblspn flaked almonds – to decorate top.
Put all ingredients except those for decoration, in a saucepan. Stir slowly and constantly till all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
Serve warm, with decorations on top. You can serve alongside mixed berries. Definitely serve with cream (or yoghurt if you are feeling very virtuous.)
And….this cutting from a magazine mysteriously appeared on the wall above my computer…“Every act of Creation is first an act of destruction.” Pablo Picasso . To my daughter, who put that here for me to find….thank you for that inspiration.