I Did a Tree-Change But it Didn’t Make me a Gardener

When contemplating a tree-change, images of weekends spent pottering in the garden came to mind. We would eat an abundance of home-grown fresh produce and any excess will be pickled or frozen for use when out of season. We would never shop for fresh produce at Woolies again – on Saturday’s I would frequent the local farmers markets to buy anything we haven’t grown. When visitors came to dinner, everything on the plate would be home-grown, including the meat.

The first two years, I had reasonable success with snow peas and zucchinis.  Tippi would go out to the veggie patch and pick and eat her own crunchy snow peas – I’m a natural! The strawberry plants thrived but didn’t fruit very much, but I was undeterred – they’ll do better next year!

The problem with veggie patches is that they require attention ALL THE BLOODY TIME! Turn your back for a few days and the weeds start to take over, the snails slide on in and the birds have a party. On a fine spring day, I will happily spend an afternoon in the veggie patch clearing, weeding, digging, planting, fertilising, watering. Allen Seale would be proud! (to readers too young to get the reference, he was a gardener on TV in the 80s famous for his whistling lisp)

Then I’m done. Until the next warm spring day that is a) on a weekend and b) on a day that I FEEL like gardening again – that can be weeks for even months later. Damn, stupid veggie patch doesn’t just look after itself. By the time I get back to it, I have to start again. And then the same happens, so I start again. Then the same happens again. And then it’s winter and there’s no bloody way I’m digging around in dirt when it’s 4 degrees outside.

Five years on, that veggie patch and I are still not friends. This year we actually got a few strawberries – all of which my daughter ate – and I have a huge bush of parsley of the old fashioned kind – you know, the curly stuff no one uses anymore – and that’s about it. No snow peas, no zucchini, nothing. Zip.

Wouldn’t you think that the very act of making a tree-change (rather than just talking about it forever) would automatically grant you magical gardening abilities?

It doesn’t. Here is the fruit of my every now and then labours:



There’s actually some tomatoes in there, but they’ve been there for weeks and just stay green.


Oh, and I still haven’t been to a local farmers market. I’m going this weekend I promise! Our guests do eat home-grown beef and lamb, but I can’t take credit for that – that’s Andy’s job.

My Kid Gave me Goosebumps Today

Minnie Mouse reincarnated?

Minnie Mouse reincarnated?

…And made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Miss Four and I went to the medical centre to get her vaccinations done, she was being surprisingly calm about it, actually she felt quite grown up.

I parked in the parking lot next to another car and in the drivers seat was an old lady – maybe 85 or so – glaring at me I assumed for parking so close to her. I live in a rural area dominated by seniors and they get really cranky about all the SUVs in the car parks in town. I mean, if the car spaces are too small, take it up with the council, right? What other car could be more practical for both farm and family life? I shoved and shunted a bit to give her more room to open her door, but really I was perfectly positioned in the middle of the marked out space. So I was internally eye-rolling at yet another cranky old “dear” tch tching me.

As we were getting out of the car, Tippi – Miss 4 – said “I like that lady, can I talk to her?” and straight to the window she went and said “hello!” with a big, gorgeous smile and a wave. The lady was nice to her, but said not a word to me – not that she had to mind you but I’m just making the point that she wasn’t exactly engaging us in any exchange – this was all driven by Tippi. We walked in to the doctors surgery and went about our day.

When we came out of the nurses room some 45 minutes later, Old Lady was sitting, waiting for her turn. “Hello!” says Tippi.

This time Old Lady was quite lovely with Tippi and they had a little chat. I should point out that my daughter is charming as all four year olds are, but she is also OFTEN extremely shy and whilst not unheard of, it is very rare for her to initiate conversations with strangers. I needed to go to the loo so Tippi begged me to let her stay with Old Lady while I did that. She didn’t seem to mind, so I went, gobsmacked wondering where my shy little girl went and bursting with maternal pride. Tippi was being utterly delightful and the Old Lady couldn’t help but be charmed by her.

As we were leaving, we said our goodbyes, and then Tippi ran back to Old Lady and said: “Excuse me, can I come to your house for a play one day?” The poor old thing spluttered out an excuse that she didn’t live in a house, she lived with lots of old people who might not like her to come and play. Tippi accepted that and off we went.

In the car on the way back to preschool, she was quiet for a while then suddenly said: “In the olden days, when mummy wasn’t around and daddy wasn’t around, I played with that lady but I cant remember her name.”

Hellooooo goosies! It reminded me of a time around two years earlier when she would be in the bath and occasionally looked past me out the window and said “who’s that?”. There was never anyone there, but it always rattled me a little.

Tippi must have seen a look on my face, because she then said: “But it’s just a story, Mumma.” I told her I thought it was a lovely story, and that was that.

If I did give her a look that made her think she’d said something wrong, I deeply regret that. I’m not taking this as some kind of evidence that reincarnation exists, but equally I don’t want to stifle her imagination with grown up perceptions. If it was just a story – and it more than likely was – what lovely creativity is starting to come out, I would only ever want to nurture that.

Do I believe in reincarnation? I’m open to it, but I tend to shrug it off with the belief that if it does exist, we’ll know soon enough when we’re dead.

Have your kids ever said or done something that spooked you just a little?