Monday, 23 June 2008

Dutch lady's balcony garden

D.L. in her balcony garden, Holland by Klaroen.
Click for More of Klaroen's balcony garden Photos on Flickr

I found this photo on Flickr, which led me to a balcony Deva in Holland.
She wrote to me to tell me her story.
It was such a beautiful and little story, in such Expressive English, to my surprise it made me cry. Maybe because I had been brave all day, doing hard things: the gentleness of this letter from Holland must have done something to wash over one of my inner embankments. I wonder what it was?

Here is D.L's story:

Hallo, Cecilia!

Thanks for your reaction. It took some time but in spite af my age I have a full life. I'll try to answer your questions. That will not be easy for me; my knowledge of English is rather poor. Many times my sister-in-law living in Australia bursts out in laughter (she wrote me!) when she reads my letters. F.e. After a message in the the newspapers about big fires (because of the heavy dryness) I used the word: "woodfire" instead of forestfire...stupid me..
But I'll promise you to do my best and see how far I can come.

In April 2003 when my husband and I removed to this senior-appartment, I found a complete empty balcony (5-th floor) of 1.40 x 4,50 meter. The very, very last thing I took from the former house was our birdbox...Maybe crazy, but I thought: no house for the birds..than surely no birds will come. So I better hang it and wait... And see, we were still unpacking and arranging and what happened? I entered the livingroom, where the door to the balcony stood open. I called my husband: "hush, hush, look what's going on here in the room!" We saw two little yellow feathered "burglers", steeling little threads from the fringe of our carpet! One even flew to my husbands chair and picked in the woollen cover and pulled threads out, the naughty bird! It seemed our titbirdfriends had moved wíth us. Some weeks later we could hear young birds pipiting in the birdbox! After that I started dreaming of "Morningglows",of sweet smelling Roses, of little ranking Nasturtium... If the birds could make a nest that high, why couldn't I try to make a little garden that high???? So I started with black buckets, my husband got sacks of soil on his bike (we never owned a car..) I bought some plants, put seeds in little pots, let Sweet Peas sprout and so on. My husband enjoys very much what I do but his thumbs show a different colour green from mine, ( in former years he used to have a "vegpatch".)
A year later we pleaced a bench on the balcony, and I dreamed on about a rosebow, Clematis and Passionflowers... And I worked and watered the plants, put dried cowmestgrains, grumbled about the little slugs that ate the very young petals,
and I enjoyed working and sitting in the early sun in March....
Another year later I put a avocado-stone next to a plant in its bucket and forgot about it.. And guess, some time later a tiny little stem grew with some petals; in 3 years it grew out to a fifty cm. high plant. Oh, those wonders happening under one eyes.. so amazing! Slowly, slowly, the Paradise arised, Our little Paradise!
One of your questions: how many hours a week do I work in my "garden" and: how many hours do I sit down and enjoy my "dreambalcony" ?
Its hard to say, working on it is enjoying it in the mean time. And sitting on it is sometimes: "Oh, that plats needs some pruning!" Then I stárt prunung or whatever.
On silent Sundaymornings, at six for example, I try to count my pleasures on that vey moment, well, it takes too much time now. If you like I can write on later about my guirky garden. And eh... about my English..... do I hear sneaky laughter......??
Sorry dear, I'm only a simple Dutch 77 years old lady.
Enough for now, maybe later some more (if you like).
Kind regards from D.L, Holland
P.s. I am going to sent you a picture of the winterbalcony and some recent pictures. Not by e-mail but by airmail, okay?
D.L, you are a treasure.

Garden Bathtub

My plan to make a shower in my courtyard is just about to come to fruition.
The inspiring and infinitely resourceful website of Margaret Rainboweb is how I got my introduction to this lady who bathes outside, Kathy Heinzen . I wrote to Kathy to hear more about her special bath:

Here is Kathy's response:

I love filling the tub to the brim, sometimes adding bubbles or scented salts or lavender buds and rose petals that grow in the garden. I rest my head on the bath pillow, sip a glass of homemade mead or elderberry wine and toast the full moon when she appears above the lake and mountains in the distance. In summer, the cricket chorale is perfect accompaniment. Any night, owls may be heard or on rare occasion, the coyotes high-pitched yips as they converse with each other. Other times, I hear dry twigs snap when deer walk their trail on the other side of the garden in the trees. At least, I hope it's deer.
My husband and I live on an acre of land in a woodsy neighborhood at the end of a county road bordering national forest. It's peaceful. The night sky is black too, perfect for musing upon favorite constellations. I imagine Delphinus, the little dolphin, splashing in the Milky Way or the graceful swan, Cygnus, in flight. Other times, I close my eyes and drift silently among stars, galaxies, black holes, nebulae... Excuse my meanderings. Just thinking about it takes me there.
The attached image of my bath is an old one. Last year we built a sturdier arbor, but as you can see it's not green yet here in northern Idaho, USA, so I have no photos of it when the grape vines are leafed out. We're experiencing an unusually long winter despite Spring's official arrival nearly two months ago. I've read we have La Nina to blame. The meteorologists say she's moving frigid Siberian air via the jet stream to Alaska and funneling it to the northwestern states. All should return to normal sometime in June, though.
Good luck and much enjoyment with your article, Cecilia. If these photos or words are of any use to you, feel free to do with them as you wish. I'd like to know when your article is published. I'd enjoy reading about others' thoughts and rituals and seeing their bath retreats.
Kathy Heinzen

Thank-you Kathy, I especially love the idea of baths in the modesty of night darkness. I just realized, darkness has a use after all.

I'd love to get more stories and images of outdoor baths, or advice on the tricky bits of making it all happen.