It’s the place where I can breathe, where my bare feet touch the earth. It’s my little corner of space and time where I am able to connect to the natural world, to let go and be closer to the person that I want to be. As a child, this was my world, my life. Countless hours of the day were spent there together with my sister: swinging, digging, planting, sky-watching, rolling in the grass, chasing ants, hiding in the bushes, inhaling the rich smell of earth and leaves until somebody found me or our mother called us in.
The years passed, and I moved away. I turned to a city girl at heart – so I thought. I traded that suburban patch of green with a turn-of-the-century apartment, theaters in walking distance, barbeques in crowded city parks and cafés on street corners. And I loved every minute of it. Until one of the biggest transitions that can happen in a woman’s life took place in mine, too: I became a mother.
A fresh little being entered my world, one for whom I had hopes, dreams and plans. I thought so much about what kind of a childhood I wanted him to experience, and what I as a mother could offer him to develop a sense of wonder and love for the natural world. Of course, we frequently visited my parents. And as my son grew and began to walk and discover the world around him, it was not me doing the teaching, showing and telling. It was my child who continued to teach me many things. His open-eyed way of exploring my childhood garden, his attention to details and ability to run wild and free helped me to open my own eyes and to reconnect to that place and to the child still within me.
I saw this garden, this suburban patch of green, with different eyes – through the eyes of my child. I saw it as a place of wonder once again, a place to roam freely, to dig one’s hands into the earth, to watch those seedlings grow, to discover butterflies and honeybees and snails right outside the front door.
Together, we hear the squishing of the grass and mud beneath our feet after weeks of rain. We lie on the grass and watch the sky change as a thunderstorm rolls in. We walk barefoot, we pick blackberries and place them right in our mouths, our fingers stained with their juice. We build snow families, collecting snow from every corner of the garden. We place seeds in the ground and water and watch and water and watch. And we make plans for more wonders to happen in this place in the future. The season of spring, especially, holds so much promise of things to come. We see magic happening, growth and life unfolding right before our eyes. This childhood garden of mine, it’s turning more and more into a childhood dream re-lived, a place where dreams come true, a space for us all to reconnect to our past, our future and the beauty around us.
Sylvia King is a storytelling girl with a camera, maker of stuff and lover of everyday beauty living in Hamburg, Germany with her husband and 2-year-old son (and a baby due this summer). Together with her sister, who lives in the US, she blogs on artsy ants and sells family art on etsy.