Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The days are brightening in the Valley. We've had an exceptionally cold, but exceptionally beautiful winter - a bit like the ones I experienced as a child, deep in the English countryside. Snowfall, morning mists, dawn frosts and icy roads (not that I enjoy the latter too much on the school trip of course) and it's all been one big excuse for snuggling up with hot mugs of cocoa, sticky puddings and warm veggie bakes. But now the days are warming up - a little - and I am harbouring thoughts on the veggie patch...

Traditionally the growing of our family's food has been my husband's domain, but lately I have been feeling inspired to get out and sow and plant and dig and tend. Time is the issue, with young children to care for and meals to set on the table, but I decided to go ahead and order the bright red Hunter wellington boots and join the Diggers' Club anyway. So my new spring challenge is how to incorporate gardening into my day.

The thing is twins. Having twins is a totally unique experience, and quite different to having children of different ages. Twins are amazing, and adorable and heart-stopping, but they also impact not only on your physical sphere, but your mental one. With two four year-olds in the house it's a real achievement to complete a thought process, let alone sit down and drink a cup of tea. Recently my husband spent the day out with them, while our eldest was at school, so I had a day to myself. I walked the puppy by the river, did a little work, wasted some time on the internet and even managed to win a beautiful designer dress on ebay. But most of all I was able to have some peace, and began to remember what it was like to feel calm and free of interruption to my thoughts, dreams and musings. Don't get me wrong - I was very pleased to welcome them all back home at dinner time. My children are the very centre of my life and I feel incredibly blessed to have them, especially as I didn't so much as entertain the notion of motherhood until I was nearly 40. (I was lucky enough to have three in less than two years without so much as a nod to the ticking clock.) But while I've reveled in my life as a mother, the last four years have been almost a total immersion in the lives of others, and the other day it did feel nice to have some breathing space for a change. I also had a glimpse of what the days would be like without any of them at home. The twins will be at kindergarten twice a week next year, and instead of the gaping hole I once saw opening up before me in their absence, I could picture lovely long-ish stretches of time full of not very much. Pottering about the garden, drinking pots of tea, reading, spinning, staring into space, hanging out with friends. It felt good.

I was chatting to one of those friends today about all the lovely blogs that paint beautiful pictures of life with children - harmonious images of household creativity and calm mothers quilting and baking at the centre of them. They are beautiful, and we read them because that's what we are striving for. But while I decry the sceptics and cynics who deride these blogs, I am aware that sometimes they can make the more vulnerable among us feel a little inadequate occasionally. If you read them when you've had a day from hell, they can seem a little smug.... But mostly I find them inspiring and heartwarming, and I love the connection I feel to that way of life, even if it remains more of an aspiration than a daily reality in my own house. My house is hugely creative, but also chaotic and crazy and full of the emotional turbulence of young children. They may spend an hour or two in artistic reverie but then one of them will grow frustrated or a fight will erupt.... And that's ok. I'm sure the beautiful bloggers deal with all of that as well. They just don't blog it!

Perhaps we write our vision, whatever that may be. Perhaps we simply try to make sense of our days. Perhaps we need to vent. Or perhaps we just like to muse, query, reflect, ponder and contemplate. Gardening seems like a good way to do all of the above. This springtime. In my red Hunters.... With a pot of arctic fire on the brew.