The Greenhouse. And Its Many Lessons in Life

It’s grey and chilly outside. I don’t know what the temperature is. After moving between Fahrenheit and Celsius, I often no longer look at the temperature, but rather, according to the season, I have an idea of what it might be like out, then I go out on my balcony and adjust. Jeans, sweater and light jacket; or shorts and a Tee. Today’s a jeans-t-shirt-light-jacket day. The day reminds me a bit of a chilly Stockholm summer day. Just grey. All across the sky. No break. No sun peaking through. From horizon to horizon, grey. Takes me back to that place, on a gloomy Stockholm day, where I wonder if the sun will ever shine again. And occasionally two weeks would pass with no sign of that glorious sun. And standing out on my balcony, I then remind myself that I’m in Spain. And the sun will probably shine tomorrow, if not later this afternoon. And thank god for that. Can’t tell you how much that sun helps one’s state of mind, one’s ability to find that joy in one’s heart, one’s capacity for sustaining the trials and tribulations of the day. And let me tell you. Some days are. Hard. 

Just to remind you (‘cause it’s been ages since I last wrote in this blog thang), I’m a single mom living on an off-grid farm/B&B in the mountains of Spain. My nearest neighbour lives about 1K away, and then beyond her, the next neighbor is maybe 5K away. My kids and I are pretty alone up here in our mountain home, a home that was a conscious deliberate choice, and we’re now quite happy living here. After a troublesome and challenging couple years of settling in and wrapping our heads around our impulsive change of scenery, we found our footing and started those first baby steps towards establishing ourselves here. In our home. 

Here’s today. This morning, my youngest (Kiki, who’s 10 going on 20) tagged along with me to plant some replacement squashes in my greenhouse. Let me tell you. That greenhouse is my place. My escape and virtual womb, my holding pattern and whiff of joy and embrace. Just plain love manifested. On chilly spring days when the sun refuses to shine, the greenhouse offers warmth and humidity and wafting beautiful scents of my blossoming lemon tree. Just there to spill a huge smile over my face in times when the smiles aren’t flowing. That single tree is a godsend. The scent, if I could even come close to describing it — fresh honey sweet, gentle, fills every pocket of air with pure love. Especially upon entering, when you’re instantly caressed with that perfume, caught unawares, and an inward smile spreads throughout your body. 

So this dreary cold morning, Kiki and I closed the door behind us, and settled into the greenhouse, lemon blossoms aloft and tiny seedlings pushing up out of their small soil boxes, perched on wooden beams stretched across in a scaffolding pattern over a long cement tub of water, creating the blessed sensual humidity. It’s not big, my greenhouse, but perfect in size for my needs. Enough room for two people to stand side by side, and long enough to be create a passageway. And now, in early spring, my beloved greenhouse is filled with all types of lettuces and kale (I’m a bit kale obsessed) and other brassicas: broccolis, cabbages, cauliflowers, Brussel sprouts and greens: mispoona, mustard, etc. Then there are the melons and varying squashes; tomatoes galore; sweet and hot peppers. Just goes on and on, all pushing up, readying themselves to be planted out, makes me overflow with joy every time I go in there. To think, these tiny seeds will provide so much organic, fresh food for my children and me. No sprays or pesticides, just naturally grown, shared with the birds, with the caterpillars that elude my careful daily removal, the voles that dig their little holes below the surface of my garden, in hopes of munching on some juicy blood red beets or deeply entrenched sweet parsnips or fallen tomatoes. 

Kiki and I settled in. Me squatting, Kiki resting on a couple standing-up styrofoam planter trays. This particular morning, our mission is to re-plant some Hubbard and crookneck squashes that never sprouted. A while back, I re-used some small organic biodegradable planters to sow these squashes, and after weeks, no sight of those seedlings pushing through their small shells and up through the soil into our oxygen-filled world. So. Kiki and I made new planters by folding in one end of some discarded cardboard toilet paper rolls to form planters.  I filled the rolls with crumbly soil and Kiki watered them a bit and then stuck a seed in each of them, as I identified them in my list of what’s what in the greenhouse. They’re added to the family of sprouting food. An addition to the greenhouse seeds, all doted upon and loved. So dearly. As a simple reminder of the miracle and sublimity of nature, the beautiful allowance of the natural flow of life, unhindered and cared for, left to itself, unhurried and nurtured. Following its path, as I find mine. Turning it around to humanity… Ever trying to offer myself the same love and nurturing, the same allowance to wax and wane, to grow and expand, unhindered and most of all loved. By me. For me. To then offer that love and nurturing to everyone else. To allow that beautiful love space to expand and flow. Never clogged up, never corked, never dammed. Just free. Not searching, simply being. This: “Happiness is the absence of striving for the happiness.” – Change Tzu

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