Us being two, relatively, young girls has been the cause of some wondrous debate among our fellow gardeners, who are generally 50 something men, who seem either doubtful or straight-out skeptical regarding our gardening skills. For the most part they have come with wheelbarrows full of well-mend and mostly good advice to get us novices on the right track towards a functional garden. They hang around for a little chat, watch our progress with a mix between amusement and approval. ‘They can actually dig’ you feel them think behind your back. But while most of the tricks of the trade have been explained to us in a kind and helpful manner, some members of the ‘Kitchen garden League’ take their right to help out just a little too far. They’re helpfulness comes dangerously close to full blown interference, something which felt a little less welcome. One Sunday morning I was happily digging away in my new found garden, just minding my own business, when one particular skeptical member determinedly strode my way and not all too kindly informed whether I had any idea what I was doing. Before I could answer his somewhat hostile question, he pulled the spade from my hands and started digging away, all the while grumbling that I had it all wrong, that I wasn’t strong enough, that I wasn’t digging deep enough. It was wrong. All so very wrong.
I wish this could be the moment where I write that I took the spade from his hands and told him thanks for his advice, but I would take it from there. Wish I would have explained to him that I had worked in gardens before, that I knew what I was doing and even if I didn’t, that it was still my business and not his.
But let’s get real. Let’s just admit that I stood next to him, perplexed and bewildered as he went on and on about all the possible ways in which I got it wrong. Let’s be honest and say that I let him push the spade back into my hands and followed his orders as he commanded me to demonstrate whether I had been paying attention during his recent digging- lesson. And while I am at it, I might as well confess that I apparently failed this test big time, for the spade was taken from me again. The unwanted tuition continued and even intensified when it turned out that I was incapable of using a rake as well. ‘What a tragedy’, my new found teacher seemed to think as he bossed me around the garden, ‘an incompetent young woman threatening my perfect world of kitchen-gardening’ He shoveled, he raked, he quizzed and commanded. And I let him…
By the time he finally left, leaving me dazed and confused, digging in the garden didn’t seem that much fun anymore. There were so many things to do wrong, so much to learn that I felt certain that I’d never be able to catch up in time. Maybe this whole garden was a mistake. Maybe we should have thought about it twice. Or three times. Maybe we should never have started in the first place. What should have been a bright, peaceful Sunday morning had just turned into a gloomy moment in which me and my recently found self confidence had been put to the test and I guess I had failed us both.
I went home. I was angry. With myself. With mister-I- know-it-all. I sat and thought. Thought about myself and all the things I cannot do. But then I sat a little longer and thought of all the things that I am capable of . I thought of our garden. That little piece of ground that we may call ours. That patch of land that was suppose to make me happy and not sad.
Where the wild things grow. Where the wild things go. Where I go. Our garden. Where we do what we want do, grow what we want to grow. Where we listen to good advice. Where we chat with friendly fellow gardeners, who want to help us out. Where we ignore grumpy old men, who are frustrated for reasons we don’t want to understand. Where we will do things our way; not perfectly, not terribly, not stubbornly, nor ignorantly, but just uniquely and happily…Picture above by Saraï Jansen