Every Friday, during school term, I meet with friends to drink tea, eat cake and grow food. In that order, sometimes there is coffee and more tea, depending on how inviting the day outside is. I've talked about my gardening buddies before, but I cannot begin to convey how happy our gatherings make me. I'm all gushy, like a mum waxing lyrical about her new born baby. Veggie group connects me with the most beautiful women, and my community, after 7 years together there is very little we don't share. I am so grateful for that gem of an idea we had, a spark launched during a lengthy chat at school pick up.
Over the years the group has changed, in the beginning there was a raucous crowd of children, screaming with joy and tearing our houses apart. There were some notably unruly days, where sugar was strewn across floors, spaghetti found in beds, toothbrushes used as toys, and the screams of injuries and tiffs were loud and unnerving. My middle child bawled when he found out that going to school meant no more veggie group. Mostly they were days of delight, where friendships were forged, and outdoor fun was embraced. Sometimes we got the children to help in the garden, but mostly they were thrilled to explore each others houses and belongings, and to play. We came to veggie group as much for our children, as for ourselves, our children would not have forgiven us if we missed a week.Gradually the little ones have grown and gone to school, and there are now only two preschool girls left to play with each other. This week the little ones played dress ups and crafted, there were a few tears, a clash of head and knee mid game, but mostly smiles.
The time together, as gardening friends, has remained a constant, we have structured our lives around a Friday morning commitment, its like a cleansing ritual, we talk gardens, children, and life, its a great wind down before the weekend. Rarely is our group in its full contingency, there is sickness, family, work and the business of living that sometimes gets in the way. Only one dear single mother friend has had to leave due to work obligations, but we stay close. Fifteen of us sharing our worries, ideas, hopes, sorrows and joys. Our get togethers are never quiet. These days conversations are more complete, there is a calm that comes with not having to be so eagle eyed, wondering what mischief is taking place whilst we have our hands in the earth. Later in the year we are going away for our first girls weekend,there will be garden tours, wineries, cheese tasting and above all laughter. We have booked a house with a wide berth around it, so as not to disturb our neighbours.
I had two cake disasters baking for the gathering at my house this week. The bran and date muffins were almost Inedible and my lemon cakes sank like the titanic. Such disasters have to happen when you are cooking for a crowd, it mattered not, we have all been there over the years and have a good chuckle at our faults. The candied orange peel was admired, and a recipe shared. I am now employed 1 day a week to be a Junior Landcare Facilitator, and had my first day on the job Thursday. Someone often arrives with something thoughtful, seeds, cuttings, flowers, excess produce, and this week it was a pot of Polyanthus to congratulate me on my new job.
In the dead cold of winter we garden, watching the seasons turn together, our children becoming teenagers, our fruit trees bearing crops. In the bitter sleet, there is only the warmth of friendship to keep us going. A brief gardening burst with this many women sees the beds cleared of weeds, and a new patch of snow peas planted. After such a day, I sink deep into the couch, the hosts job is a busy one. My littlest is tired too, and in a rare event these days, she falls asleep snuggled up on my lap. Bliss.
Gardening in sleet.