The bed head, the snail and me.

Earlier this month while out for an evening walk I found a wrought iron bed head by the side of the road and had just carried it a few kilometres and was almost home when I saw a snail on the footpath and pondered the poetry of our similar situations – he carrying his house and me, a piece of furniture.

I squatted down, leaned my large, old, iron, bed head on my shoulder – my arms grotty, a old pink cardigan tied around my neck and my too low waisted jeans probably revealing the lace top of my undies – and proceeded to photograph my new found friend when another human being walked by and regarded me with much suspicion. There wasn’t much I could have said to make myself appear less crazy. But hey, I had a photograph of a snail and a bed head.

Snail

The story of the apricots

In our front garden, we have five or six fruit trees and numerous other food plants. I planted out the front garden like this because I wanted to preserve space in the back garden for vegetables.

Last year our apricot tree, which is closest to the footpath, was covered in fruit. While in the garden picking fruit, or tending to the trees, I had many lovely conversations with people from our neighbourhood. People commented positively on the garden, and were impressed with the number of apricots on the tree, little kids asked their parents about them as they walked by. On one occasion, an old man who I’ve seen walking in our neighbourhood over many years, but have never spoke to, said that he had been admiring my garden for many years and congratulated me on its progress.

20140114_121114That season we picked at least four big buckets full of apricots and ate heaps straight from the tree. My daughter made dried apricots during a four day heat wave using a re-purposed insect house – this possibly being the *only* good thing to come from four days straight above 40 degrees Celsius.

We put a little basket of apricots out by the footpath in the afternoon so that people walking home from the train station could have a sweet apricot to eat.

My eight year old son and I made a stack of apricot jam. He cut all the apricots, added the ingredients to the pot and stirred it all until it got too hot to be safe for him. We made ten jars and gave a few away. It was super fun process and the jam is delicious.

20140114_080103We had more apricots than we knew what I do with, so I made apricot nectar, which if I remember correctly, was just apricots and a little sugar heated gently and then blended. I froze most of it in ice-cube trays to put in my proteins shake/smoothies.

And that is the story of the apricots.

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Gratitude

When I was a kid my parents took me to visit my grandparents a couple of times a year. At meal times we would wait for everyone to sit down at the table and someone would say grace.  The details seemed to vary, but grace always involved thanking God for our food. I remember thinking that God probably had less to do with the production of our meal than people and the sun (and other natural things).  I also remember thinking that it was nice that we waited for everyone to sit down and that it made the meal into more of an event and that even as a kid, I liked the quiet time for reflection.

When I graduated with my Bachelor of Science, the speaker asked all the graduates to stand, turn around and thank their parents (who were assumed to be in the audience) for their support (with applause). As a mature aged student, my parents weren’t there, I had a couple of friends instead.  Anyway, I turned around and at that moment I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Not for my friends, nor for my parents, but for the opportunity to be standing there. For most of my undergraduate degree, I was a single parent and was financially supported, at least in part, by government benefits. The fact that I got to go to university while raising preschool and school-aged children on my own and that I didn’t have to worry too much about money, is something I will always be grateful for.

Now I have a merit and equity scholarship to do my PhD and an amazing job teaching at university that fits perfectly with my study. That’s a story for another day, but also something I am so incredibly grateful for.

At some point in my early adult life I realised that gratitude is a useful emotion. I have experienced some very, very tough times and feeling grateful for what I did have was a useful way of shifting my focus.  I don’t remember if I intentionally started a habit of being grateful, but I certainly feel that way a lot.

I am an atheist, but I like saying grace.

On the evenings that my children and I have a meal together, we wait for everyone to sit down and then we take turns saying something that we are grateful for. We often do this with dinner guests as well.

Sometimes we are sincere and sometimes we are silly.

These are some examples of things that my children, my friends and I have been grateful for:

Farmers, $person for cooking, washing machines, avocados, Neil Gaiman, electricity, the government, $guest for coming over, Mum having a good job, bees, science, the sun, physiotherapists, being among friends, the gym, $person for doing $chore, ducted heating, Fitocracy, being able to work from home, Miyazaki, getting to hold hands with two handsome men, computers, the weather, coffee, awesome work mates, science funding, civilisation, shopkeepers, public transport and donkeys.

What are you grateful for?

Go on, think about it for a while. It will make you feel good. I promise.