On Tuesday, we had a barbeque lunch. Artichokes from the garden and flat bread cooked over the fire. With broad bean dip. Also from the garden. It was a whole lot of work getting it ready. Picking and preparing the artichokes and broad beans, making the dip, making the bread dough. Especially since G and I had a huge barney in the morning. I won't go into details but suffice to say, I got angry, harsh words were spoken, G got angry and Grace cried. We have a no shouting rule in our house and try to be nice to each other. But sometimes we fail. It doesn't help that G doesn't have much in the way of paid work at the moment. This means that we spend more time together than usual, which most of the time is quite pleasant. And often means that, for a mother of a toddler, my life is pretty cruisy. But we both know it's not the ideal situation in the long term.
Why am I writing about this? I'm not really sure but I think it has something to do with something one of the women in my mother's group said. On Wednesday we had the first get together at our house. It was fine, the kids toddled around the garden, we sat under the Hills Hoist eating and gossiping. My garden was admired, along with the usual questions about how I get the time. In the early days we met at a council venue, then at a local cafe. As the children became more mobile, we started meeting at each others houses. I am one of the last to offer up our place as a venue and to say that I was anxious about it might have to be the understatement of the century. We are the only renters in the group and our house while quite charming, has a certain crumbling dereliction about it. Probably I'm the only one that remembers but I also joined the group five weeks after it had started, on heavy duty medication and recovering from the post natal psychosis which had come out of the blue when Grace was about three months old. So I guess I felt pretty much in the cellar (to use a romance writing term), and despite getting to know the other women and babies over time, every now and then a niggling status anxiety and old feelings of being a total whacko rise to the surface. Eventhough I am fully recovered and no one else in the group has the perfect life either. I mean, who does?
So anyway we are doing the garden tour, and I'm talking about which plants survived the last dry summer and about the vegie garden and come to the artichokes, which I consider an ornamental plant that we can eat. Someone asks how I prepare them and I reply, I barbeque them. Then I add, well we had a barbeque for lunch yesterday, artichokes and flat bread with broad bean dip. Someone else says, Janet, now you're just showing off. I am momentarily stunned. Because this is just what we do, garden barbeques are a highlight of our summer. They're kind of special but in an everyday way. Later I realise that being gently mocked is a sign of how comfortable we are with each other and our different lifestyles. I really do belong to this group. And someone has seen an aspect of my imperfect life which they think is really quite desirable.
I've been thinking alot about the artichoke barbeque during the long (temporary) commute to my two days of work, looking out the train window at the empty backyards. Thinking about the summer garden, the barbeques and meals that will ensue. About snatching time to sew. Which I succeeded at this week by sewing at night and in short grabs between appointments and commitments and barbeques. About how it seems a stupid amount of work to prepare an artichoke for a barbeque, even more so in the first mouthful when it tastes bitter and ordinary. The you have another mouthful and before you know it, you're having another and another because they are so damn good. And before you know it, the morning's argument is all forgotten and you are under the tree on a sunny day, in the backyard with G and mum and Grace. Who even tried a little artichoke too, before throwing it on the ground. But she did like the flatbread and broad bean dip. And you remember why you bother.