As a child, the greatest treat was to be taken to Disneyland or Sea World and be allowed to eat corndogs and hamburgers the whole day. In my teenage years, a treat was a date in a Japanese restaurant followed by a fancy coffee in a late night cafe. I discovered jewellery in my 20s and that became my obsession for the next decade, until my daughter came along, and I realised that my greatest treat became witnessing and photographing her milestones. In my 40s, the treat was being able to go on spiritual retreats and withdraw from the world and all the responsibilities. Needless to say, all this time, writing and photography were constant companions, and whenever I could indulge in either activity without disturbance, I was at peace.
My 50s are by far the most turbulent decade thus far, with so many paradigm shifts and decluttering going on. Writing and photography remained at the core of my being, no long a luxury but a necessity. Now that I live the perfect solitary life in the Shire, a treats take on a whole new dimension – a garden to claim, conquer, a poetic sunset with clouds, to indulge in literature while being surrounded by cats of all characters, and being able to cook for someone other than myself. Now I can add a new item to the list: Watering the garden.
For the past two months, watering the huge area was a challenge to my knees and patience. The 20m hose that I initially got and connected to the outdoor faucet barely reached the first level of the garden. For the remainder I had to fill up two watering cans and carry them up and down four or five times until the essentials were covered. As a result, I started singing again out of sheer frustration.
Let me tell you a little side story regarding my unusual singing talent.
Unlike my daughter who is an alto and has always had a wonderful singing voice, I am tone deaf. The music teacher who diagnosed me says it might be a side effect of all the surgeries I have had in my life particularly the amount of anaesthesia. Whenever I used to do household chores and sing as a teenager, my mother always asked what I was lamenting about again. I found it funny at the time until I realised I really couldn’t carry a tune and whenever I sang, it started raining, and only in the area where I was. So basically I can’t carry a tune even if my life depended on it. Apparently this is a rare gene that runs in one branch of my family because my cousin has it as well. The one time we sang together there was a typhoon the very next day! I recently discovered that her singing prowess also has the same radius, and her children all confirmed it. It is so bad that when my daughter was a baby and I sang to her while nursing, she reached up one day and hit me squarely on the face to shut up. She put up with my singing for almost two months, but after that we called it quits.
Fast forward 20+ years, I have rediscovered my rainmaking powers and managed to make it rain in the evening or the next morning by belting out P!nk, Finneas and Adele. Anything to get out of garden watering duty! I realised this was not sustainable so I searched for a water hose extension that would reach all the way to the bottom of the garden. The 50m hose arrived yesterday morning with the matching connectors, so now I have 70m to work with and my goodness what a difference it makes! OK, today was a bit a trial and error with the untangling of the whole thing and winding it down and around the stairs, but what a treat it was to stand in the middle of the garden and have such a peaceful moment with four elements – water, air, wind, and earth. I was completely lost in the moment until the wind got stronger and the sun was already setting.
Naturally, I had five curious cats to keep me company throughout it all, since none of them seem to have ever encountered such a “creature” before. They first tried to figure out whether it was alive, then they experimented with tapping it, and jumped in horror when it moved and uncoiled. Old Cheddar, who likes to hang out under the elder tree these days, was horrified when he got splashed, and was not at all appreciative of the gesture. In my defence, I didn’t see him there, since he was well hidden by the periwinkles.