Tuesday 8 May 2012
Upbringing and flowers
Presents for friends
Recently I spend five Euros on some flowering plants as a small present for my friend. She can plant them in her garden or in pots on her large patio. I had not seen this friend for a long time and I wanted to bring her something that would last, and plants for the garden are always a hit with her, just as they are with many of my friends.
Presents for myself
On the way home from work on Friday I took my time. It was warm, still twenty-five degrees at six in the evening, with no wind. I stopped every now and then to pick some of the hedgerow flowers.
Once, last year, I counted over twenty different species of flower as I whizzed along the cycle track! Unfortunately I could name them all only in English. I know only a few of the names in German and Hungarian but many of their English names are embedded in my memory since childhood when their strangeness evoked such wonderful images in my mind. Toadflax was always a favourite, with ragged-robin, old-man’s-beard and dog-rose all following close behind, probably because of their association with other living creatures.
This morning as I looked at those flowers that I had picked for myself I thought about the peaceful minutes in the evening sunshine after work that I had spent collecting them, I also pondered on the nice hours that I had spent with my friend. Then I started to think about upbringing. I thought about upbringing in general and about my own upbringing and how it influences my work and, of course, my private life.
It is what I do. It is how I was brought up!
I picked flowers from the hedgerows for myself because that is what I do.
I have always picked wild flowers; and now I own the vase in which my Grandmother always placed my offering of red-dead-nettle, the only flower that grew between our house and hers!
My sister always used to tell me to hurry along and stop picking weeds. I never did hurry and I never arrived empty-handed!
When my Mum was alive she always placed her own special vase on the kitchen window sill, ready for my arrival, and now my Dad does the same once he had learnt that that is what I like to do.
Mum knew that soon after my arrival I would make my first walk in the garden and soon there would be a few daisies, a buttercup, a bluebell or even red-dead-nettle, beaming at her from her vase as she washed the dishes! She knew because that is what I do, that is what she taught me to do, to pick wild flowers!
Mum not only taught me how a few wild flowers in the right vase look really pretty, she also taught me all their names, she taught me which ones were rare and should not be picked, and she taught me not to go mad, to pick all of them sparingly.
And that is what I do!
At home there was always an abundance of flowers, potted plants, seedling, little trees, and fruit, vegetables and wine made from homemade produce. There was always something at hand to wrap in a newspaper and take somewhere as a present.
In my house there are paintings and handmade crafty things to take with me as gifts when I visit, but since I no longer have a garden there are no more plants or fruit and vegetable.
That is why I sometimes spend a few Euros to buy my friend something for her garden.
It is what I like to do. That is how I was brought up!
What about my clients?
Do the children I work with collect wild flowers on the way to visit their grandmother? Do they grab a bunch of flowers from the garden to take to the Auntie or a neighbour who has a birthday? Do they learn the strange names of what my sister calls weeds, or smell the peculiar earthy smells on their fingers having picked them?
Perhaps some of them do, perhaps some of them like my sister, are not interested.
Perhaps some on them cannot for some reason but would really love to. Or perhaps they would really like help to do something else that was a natural part of my growing up but not theirs. Things like playing trains, swinging on a swing, looking at insects in the grass or the fish in the pond.
It is helping children in my groups to experience the sort of things that they perhaps otherwise would not get to know about, that makes all the hard work worthwhile. It is such a joy to see their faces as the box containing the toy train comes out, of the cupboard or when we all crawl around on the grass looking for a sign of life amongst what at ground level looks like a rainforest.
I hope one day when they are adults these children will also be able to say when involved in some favourite activity –
‘That is what I like to do, it is how I am.
‘It is because of my upbringing.’