There are times when peace is hard to find: the last few weeks have been one of those times. Worrying about my oldest son and his bitter battle for reasonable access to his two children has been an underlying stress in our lives all year, but as each new stage of the process draws near, my anxiety increases. Last Friday I had to go to the Family Court in Rotorua to support Greg, and my anxiety reached new heights - or lows. (I didn't 'have' to go, of course, I chose to go. But supporting my kids is a part of what being a mother means to me.) It was terrifying. Not the court itself, but what it represents: the possibility that Greg's access to his children, and our chances to see our grandchildren, could be taken from us, all on the basis of how convincingly his ex-wife can tell her lies. Perhaps all her accusations are not lies - I have not been present all through their marriage - but I am in a position to know that some of the more serious ones are fabrications. It is frightening, and there is so little I, or anyone, can do about it.
On Saturday I was feeling a bit less stressed, having another stage behind us. I got out in the garden, despite having a cold and feeling pretty sick, and set up the strawberry bed ready for the new season crop. Doing this reminded me of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and to be surrounded by signs of so much love and friendship.
My strawberry bed was intended as a flower garden, but before I had decided what to plant, my friend Valerie gave me forty strawberry suckers which needed planting, so in they went instead. Past experience told me I needed to cover the plants if I was to have any hope of actually getting a chance to beat the birds to even a half-ripe strawberry.
My friend Jenny had given me a whole heap of short lengths of black polythene pipe that she no longer wanted. I visited a reinforcing steel manufacturer who gave me some short lengths of reinforcing rod, which I hit into the ground along the sides of the garden, putting the pipe over the rods to form hoops. Over these I stretched some bird netting that I had been given several years ago by my eldest son's in laws, and the net is held down by tents pegs from a variety of small pup tents long worn out after years of fun.
This is my favourite garden. Apart from the fact that it produced a 2 litre ice cream container full of strawberries every two days for three months last year (its first year), it is such a special reminder of friendship. As I spread the netting over it, the day after being in Rotorua for Greg's family court appearance, I wondered if I should throw it away and go buy some new netting. But instead I chose to use the netting as a reminder of the friendship we had had in the past with that family, and as a reminder to hope that one day that friendship can be restored.
I then went for a walk around our property and focussed on the reminders I have around me, of friends and family, that make Secret Waters more than just a property, more than just the place we live, but also a real home with reminders and connections to the past and the future.