Walking and wondering

If you live in Melbourne, you will know how intensely cold it is, and has been for a while, but how glorious it is when the clouds clear every few days and we have pure sunshine, like today. We all need some sunny days in our lives in lockdown days!

Today, as I walked on our nearby streets and paths, as usual I often meditate about all the walks that Dorothy and I did together, in times past. And I spare a thought for all those who by reason of health or mobility or lack of incentive are unable to get outside and feel that warmth (out of the chilly blasts of that biting wind!). It’s quite incongruous that I should be the survivor when it was Dorothy who was always the strong walker; we had so many happy walks, especially locally where we’d analyse and discuss the parks, the trees, the birds, and other people’s front yards. “That’s a rental”, we’d guess, as we surveyed the forlorn state of a front yard!

Our common love of plants and gardens enabled us to share, more deeply than some folk, because of the happy years we spent together in our tiny suburban retail plant nursery. After my career in corporate commerce and manufacturing, with Dorothy as the homemaker, we were happy for me to take early retirement and, together, run that little business. It wasn’t a great financial success, but it sure helped us to know each other in a whole new way, and we thrived on it.

As the big nurseries grew bigger, we tiny ones gradually lost our appeal hastened, too, by the change from a society and community where the old male breadwinner concept was replaced by both partners working with neither having enough time at home for gardening. Initially the nursery was to be my newly-retired occupation and I had prepared for it by evening studies at Burnley college. The plan was for Dorothy to be an occasional helper. But guess what? Dorothy, with a lifetime love of the land, quickly found that the nursery was just what she needed, too! After all those years devoted to raising our five wonderful kids and being entangled in domestic and caring duties (often abandoned by me as I clawed my way up the corporate ladder), she flourished, indeed bloomed, and we worked together as a team like never before. Those ten happy years were never envisaged in our earlier years but, in a strange, unplanned serendipitous way they dramatically changed our lives for the better. Over those years we worked together, on our feet all day, we learned more about plants, and people and their gardens, and also about each other.

Now like so many other ‘singles’, living more alone than ever in these coronavirus days, I no longer garden, and I walk alone. But perhaps like me as I walk, we can all see the beauty of the bush, even in suburban gardens. The smile on my face now, is not because I’m seeing a beautiful flower, plant, or tree; no, it’s because they all remind me of the love and happiness of the past, before and after the nursery, and that will remain with me forever. Believe me, you should walk in the garden if you can, it’s good for the mind and body; but if you can’t walk, feast your eyes on the plants through the window, or at least in a book, and remember the days.…flowers, walking, and loving and……….