Can you remember being a child? Being quite small and going for a walk with your mother, or an errand, and collecting flowers along the way? No, not flowers, treasures (usually from weeds) which you presented to your mother as if they were the finest bouquet from the fanciest florist in town...
I had the amazing blessing of growing up on a 1-acre block in Sydney’s south-west. Now if you know anything about Sydney, Australia in the 80’s you know it wasn’t a fancy neighbourhood. Mostly working people with their families, a little rough around the edges, a little dangerous in some parts, but a melting pot of migrants from Italy, China, Vietnam, and South America mixed with 4th and 5th generation Australians.
It may have been nice to grow up on the beaches, or in the fancy suburbs where the “pretty people” lived, as my dad jokingly calls them, but there’s something really special about having grown up in Canley Vale instead. I learnt to find the beauty in the little things, everywhere.
My home was a magical land, a whole acre (which to a child might as well be a kingdom) to run around in, and every step we took to the station at the end of our street brought a new flower to pick. Dandelion blossoms all bright and sunny, passion flowers on the vines along the metal mesh of the railway fence, Bottlebrushes growing on the sidewalk which make you almost bleed to pull them off the tree! stubborn flowers.
I didn’t notice the rubbish along the railway fences, the run down look of our local train station, I loved the timber rotating station signs! you know the ones that people turned by hand to show which stations the train would stop at, yellow with black writing and always scratched and chipped from the years of use. I loved our creek running along the back boundary – even though later as an adult my mother would tell me of the drug needles she picked up so I wouldn’t hurt myself, and of poachers coming across the creek to steal cockatoo fledgelings from our gum tree hollows to sell at the markets. All I saw was the beauty, fun and adventure.
I try now as an adult to find that place of wonder and to bring it into my daily life. It doesn’t cost a cent, and it’s not from a store, but it’s more precious I think that anything I’ve bought, because in a world of wars, conflicting views, violence and corruption… Sometimes we need to find a little peace and wonder, and some flowers to brighten the day. Here’s to finding flowers 🙂