May 2020

- Experiencing Nature -

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When my mother and I talk about nature, we both mean something completely different. For me, everything that grows and is untouched is synonymous with nature, and for her, it's her well-kept garden. My mother looks after it all year round: chopping, digging, sowing, planting, fertilising, pricking, weeding, watering. Her garden is labour-intensive, but a constant source of delight and her pride and joy. "Would you like to see what I've been doing lately?" is often the first thing she asks me when I visit her. Then I stroll with my mother through the rows of beds, marvel at carnations, gladioli, hibiscus sticks – and of course the box trees that have grown further still. I learn firsthand what is currently budding, what the flowers are called, how they will bloom, which plants are new, and which colour scheme she is following in her garden this year. "I don't need to go anywhere else," she asserts again and again, "my garden is completely sufficient for my happiness." I'd believe her if it wasn't for her great love of birds. She watches them in the garden in the evenings, has nesting boxes hung up and sets up feeders in winter. Was there perhaps a bit of wanderlust behind all this?

"I drew a hummingbird for you," I surprised her after our return from Costa Rica. "A hummingbird?" exclaimed my mother happily, "I thought that wasn't really possible. Aren't they far too fast?" I agreed with her. In the jungle I saw one or the other buzzing by, but not a single one sitting quietly on a branch. "There are hummingbird waterers in the national parks," I explained, describing the scene in the painting to her. "It's a kind of hanging circular structure with a big sugar water container in the middle. At the edge there are many colourful ceramic flowers with a small opening for the long beaks of the hummingbirds. The birds have gotten used to the treat and also to being watched by humans while drinking." – "Oh, how nice that you saw them up close. But tell me, how did you paint one?" – "There were hummingbirds with different coloured plumage, but quite a lot of each species. So this blue-green shimmering hummingbird in the picture is basically not a single bird, but many. In the jungle, you're right, I could never have painted him like that." – "Come with me," my mother signalled mysteriously, "I found something in the garden today." It was a newly built bird's nest in the bushes above the carpet of Lily-of-the-Valley, ready for the coming brood. The joy of it was written all over my mother's face. I too am impressed every year by the colourful hustle and bustle of the birds and the flowers in her garden. It is just a pity that long journeys and a beautifully maintained garden do not go together at all.

 

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