© 2014 Lynsey

Garden fresh

When I was a kid my Dad created a highly productive vegetable garden. It was beautiful, but, sadly, we thought it was so mundane that we didn’t take any photos of either the garden or its rich bounty. I sometimes feel guilty that we don’t have a vegetable garden any more – we’ve got the space, and I even built a raised garden. Unfortunately, my appetite for braving the north-westerly gales, rain, and cold, coupled with work/life pressures and failed crops doesn’t lend itself to me being an enthusiastic gardener. Maybe, one day, my dream of having a tropical garden will come true.

Today, the vege market. This is where we like to buy our vegetables and eggs from. I’m always amused by the idea that during the week this space (a school yard), and that big building in the background (a hospital) is occupied by people in desperate need of good nutrition. I have seen staff from the hospital buying veges from time to time, but I imagine the chefs running the kitchens are rather more constrained.

I walk around, fascinated by the colours – vibrant capsicum reds, inscrutable aubergines, mossy broccoli greens; and greedily breathe in the pungent aromas of basil, mint, coriander, and other herbs. My inner conversation prattles on relentlessly, “wow, apricots, white peaches I love summer fruit … it’s late for asparagus – must get some … those shiny yams look like plastic … bitter melons – for drawing only … mmmm watermelon…”

People are noisy and good humoured at the market. In between the laughing, kid’s crying, and buskers’ tunes, there’s a babble of languages being spoken by people of all ages. I look at their faces and imagine their stories. Some will have come to New Zealand with dreams, having faith in a new future; others have arrived because they are no longer safe back home. Some have arrived to friends and family – loved ones; others have arrived frightened and alone. Some have have a quiet dignity and strength, others are fearful, or resigned, or just getting through.

The bags begin to cut into my fingers. I lug them back to the car before they get too heavy, leaving Marica to carry on with the delicate art of decision making. I ease the bags into the car, flexing and shaking the white out of my hands. New drivers pause, look hopefully that I’m packing to leave so they can get my car park. Soon, mate, soon.

It takes us a couple of hours to get the veges landed for a week, for six of us. As much as I’d like to grow our own produce, it’d take me longer, and cost more to do so. We’d miss the chance to meet up with whanau and to engage with the other people in the market.

Overall, when I see the fridge, pantry, scullery, assorted fruit bowls, and the kitchen windowsill replenished with fresh vegetables I feel very blessed. The twinge from knowing that I didn’t grow them myself lingers for just a whisper of a moment. I’m tired after the morning’s efforts.

I haven’t got the energy for guilt as well.

04. Every day is an opportunity to cultivate the promise of the future.
06. Every day you make choices.
14. Every day the ordinary can be the extraordinary.

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