It’s been a while. A long while during which I missed writing while writing snippets in my head. About life, social topics I feel I should bring up and the simple beautiful things that ground us. Like today’s story. Nature has a segway ready to use, it turns out. Who am I to argue?

But the stories, as they unfolded this morning…

There are a few more poppies that have opened overnight. I have been spying on their little hairy heads since they gave signs of blooming. Patience is everything with gardening, as they say, and you’re handsomely rewarded.

I’ve always loved poppies – the ones with crinkly petals, so fragile looking and so ephemeral in their existence. First you see this hairy little bud with a narrow split that gives away the colour inside and a day or two later the sun and your daily watering pry open the spiky cocoon into a red or pink or white or all of the above in one spectacular flower, that sways like a summer dress in the morning breeze. A couple of days later the petals are resting on the ground, folded up like old soft curtains from an old, once sunny bedroom that was both cocoon and dream nursery, now pillows for adventurous ants and millipedes.

But… the garden. I water this part of it* with a watering can. How unproductive, some may say, but mind you, this is what invites to being present and noticing things. You’re visiting with the garden as you bring your water gifts in early morning. *This part of our family’s garden might as well be called Poppy’s garden as she’s our dog (yes, Poppy, and …well, now you know why the poppies are there) and she has become, by virtue of preference, an integral part of the permaculture design.

A glimpse of the said garden, if you’re wondering:

That the plants are all huddled together in the garden beds may seem untidy, but here’s something I’ve learned in the last two years of experimenting with it: plants do better when they have friends to lean on around them. I have a couple of majestic cilantro plants shading the romaine and red lettuces which though it’s hot, have still maintained a sweet crispness. Plus it’s like a treasure hunt as you find your way to the tender leaves through the tall-towering army of green garlic plants, red-and-golden marigolds and bright-orange calendulas.

The other garden bed has its own little collection of buddies including carrots, turnips, a potato plant courtesy of last year’s crop, spinach, lettuce and garlic. They are huddled together to save moisture and shade each other. The formerly nothing-grows-there area in front of the house that now has beans, sunflowers, wild flax, poppies (of course!) and the impossible-to-resist-if-you’re-a-bee kind of blooming symphony tells the same story in different colours and textures: life is better with someone who supports you to become all you can become.

It’s as good a metaphor for life as can be. Friends lean on friends to have a better journey through life. They help each other build themselves to the best of their abilities. And of course, resilience is key.

So often we forget about all this in today’s world. We strive to be making it on our own and some of us do, but I believe there is always someone we lean on that contributes to it, in ways visible and invisible.

My boys used to have these matching T-shirts when they were little that said ‘Strength in numbers’ over a school of fish. It kinda stuck with me. And our present wild garden space is testament to it.

Strength is built with togetherness whether that’s in the family, community you share values with and people you meet along the way because life has ‘placed’ them in your garden bed or you in theirs. That’s less important than the shade and support you provide for each other on challenging days.