I had forgotten just how busy summer is, when suddenly everything seems to need doing at once. Although Matt and I might collapse at the end of each day, exhausted, there is no doubt about it – summer is glorious!
It seems an age since I wrote here last, but it’s with good reason. Since the polytunnel went up I have put in a huge amount of work to catch up on our delayed start to the growing season. It’s been hard work that is already paying off and I can’t tell you just how lucky I feel, to have that wonderful space!
The polytunnel has become a real focus of my day to day activities over the past few weeks. Not only have I been busy sowing seeds, potting on and planting out into a brand new, giant hugelkultur bed, but I also dry laundry and strip and dry fibres in there. Lark and Wren have been thoroughly enjoying it too, helping with the planting and sampling anything edible, that is ready to eat.
I used to think that I lacked some sort of special talent, that was required for growing plants. For many years, when my now adult children were small, I tried and failed to get into gardening and growing veggies, but it always ended up with everything eaten by slugs or forgotten, until it was too late.
I think that my focus was simply elsewhere in those early days of parenthood and home education, but it knocked my confidence and so, even though I loved gardens, we stuck to low maintenance outside spaces.
When we moved up to the islands I was determined to try again. By then, I had discovered more about no-dig, permaculture gardens and somehow it all made sense, where nothing had before.
Growing food and flowers from seed has become such a big part of my spring and summer rituals now, that I can’t imagine going back to a life without it. It has been such a calming influence – to transform neglected spaces, to check in with my plants each day, to go out into the garden to pick dinner. I have learned to accept the losses and rejoice in the triumphs and I think that I am a better person for it.
Audrey Hepburn knew what she was talking about when she said “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”.
It is a very optimistic thing to do and I find that it helps me to meet life’s challenges with optimism too.
Summer hasn’t only been about growing our garden though. We have had amazing weather here, all through June. I honestly can’t remember the last time that I was so delightfully warm! It’s almost as if we have been magically transported to somewhere further south and we have crammed in as much out and about time, as we can.
I have realised lately, that we actually spend more time on the beaches in winter than we do during the warmer months, just because of the extra work to do in the garden and on our house renovations.
When we can get out, we have been enjoying exploring some new stretches of coast around the islands. One has quickly become a new favourite, the coastal path at Marwick and the cove by the old fishermans huts.
Matt and I went there for our anniversary and I knew at once that Lark and Wren would love it. So at the next opportunity, we drove across four islands taking a very generous picnic with us. We had intended to paint and draw while we were there, but in the end we had so much fun climbing, exploring and investigating the pools, that our sketchbooks never made it out of our bag.
All in all, this summer has felt very different to last year. Now I feel rooted in this place. The anxieties of those first few months have long since passed. The stripping away of conveniences that are so often taken for granted, no longer feel alien.
I do still fantasise on a daily basis, about having an actual bed, as Matt and I are still sharing a corner sofa and rest is so precious and important. But I often find myself at different points in the day, pausing for a minute or two and realising that I feel content. A deep and wholesome contentedness.
This change has largely been due to a shift towards the lifestyle that we hoped for, moving here. Thanks to so many of you for supporting my work, either by taking the time to read my words or by giving homes to my baskets, Matt has been able to leave the shift work that we were relying on. Instead, he is now self-employed, fitting work around the renovations, which has seen such a change in our living environment. Everyday, some job gets done that has an impact on our lives and well being. Living and working are falling into a sustainable balance, where the little moments don’t get lost, but are enjoyed and treasured.
I am so grateful for this life that we have and these glorious days of summer!