Hey there! I’ve missed you!
It’s been 15 years since I wrote my first post on Heavy Petal. Ten since my first book was published. Five since my last post.
So much has changed in 15 years.
Fifteen years ago, my then-boyfriend/now-husband and I had just bought our first place: a townhouse in East Vancouver with a minuscule balcony and what would turn out to be awesome neighbours. Fifteen years ago, we were living the DINK life: working, dinner partying, travelling, napping, shopping, brunching. I could putter for hours in any of my many gardens, and did.
Ten years ago, I was a new mother, struggling to adjust to life as a parent of a toddler. Feeling pulled, both emotionally and literally, between demands. Ten years ago, I was throwing myself into everything and anything, manically trying to hold it all together. I could spend minutes in the garden and then hours turning the experience into a blog post.
Five years ago, life was pretty sweet. My challenging baby had matured into a slightly-less-challenging kid. We’d moved into a new home, an actual house with a garden, a block and a half away from our townhouse. My new book had just been published. I could once again spend hours dreaming about, expanding, and planting my new garden – often with my daughter and her friends playing nearby. I turned away from the blog and other online pursuits to focus on what was right in front of me.
Today, life is also pretty sweet (though, if I’m being honest, there’s a bit of that 10-years-ago feeling lurking around the edges, too: the feeling of being exhausted by others’ needs, though I suppose that’s just called motherhood?). There’s a new baby in the picture (who, at just-turned-four, isn’t much of a baby anymore). We’re still in our East Van home, which keeps getting better and better as we slowly evolve it. Today, actual time in the garden feels rare: something I need to schedule around the rest of my, and family’s, lives. Still, as always, gardening brings me joy and balance. It’s something I need to do.
So why, now, have I chosen to post again?
Heavy Petal was my baby well before I had my actual babies. This blog led me to publishing my books. It gave me the space to hone my writing, to test ideas, and to connect with others. The fact that it was neglected made me feel sad. There are over 600 posts on Heavy Petal. Not all of them are good, or even worth reading. But many of them are great. I want to revisit, revitalize, and share them. And I want to create and share new stories and ideas.
I’m enjoying looking back at my old content. It’s like reading a teenaged diary: sometimes embarrassing, sometimes revelatory. What strikes me most is how much my attitudes have either changed, or not.
The Heavy Petal attitude then and now
Other peoples’ gardens:
Then: Judgy. Now: A for effort!
Then: High style, high design. Now: All I want is a hose that doesn’t make me want to kill someone.
Then: Let’s throw seed bombs and sow a guerrilla wheat field. Now: let’s teach preschoolers how to make seed bombs and sow sunflower seeds.
What to plant:
Then: What’s the weirdest thing I can grow? Now: What do we love to eat?
Level of commitment/insanity:
Then: How much can I pack into my balcony garden, patio, shared garden space, community garden plot, and traffic circle gardens? Now: How am I going to find the time to plant my backyard veggie patch?
Gardening with kids:
Then: Writing about creating child-friendly gardens. Now: Living it.
Then: Starting to think about the ethics around commercial flower growing. Now: Growing flowers locally and sustainably.
Then: Let’s lose our lawns and compost more. Now: Climate Striking.
Then: if it’s not edible, pollinator supporting, or a native plant, I won’t grow it. Now: Ooo, is that peony on sale?
I’ve been doing some of those visioning exercises lately: the ones where you try to picture your ideal life in 5, 10, or 15 years, and then work back to the present in order to figure out the decisions you should be making now in order to get the life you want down the road.
In another 15 years, I’ll be in my late 50s. It’s hard to picture life then. What will climate change have wrought on the earth? Where will my grown children be? I find these exercises challenging, as if I can’t quite focus my eyes on the imagined future.
The one constant, whenever I do this type of self-reflection–besides family, health, and other basics–is the garden. Not necessarily the one I have now, but a piece of earth I can steward. I know that, in my core, a garden will always be a part of my life–a duty and a pleasure.
It’s with that knowledge I turn to this blog again to share the journey. I hope you’ll join me on it.
Nice to see you back!
So great to see your back. I look forward reading your sharing old and new thoughts, ideas and inspiration. The journey of motherhood feels so long at first and now with my teenage daughters can get so lonely as they are grown up and needing us so differently. Its all good but such a change.
Andrea Bellamy says
Thanks, Shalini, for your wise words. I can already glimpse the feeling of having a child pull away with the natural independence that comes as they enter teenagehood. Grateful for the time I have with them!
Andrea Bellamy says
Thanks bopper! Glad to be here :)
Kim C says
So glad to see you back in this space! Was literally just saying to Sean a minute ago that I needed to email you with a gardening question and BOOM I read that you’re back on Heavy Petal. Awesome! Please come visit me in NZ and play in the garden with me…we bought an entire property next to our house just so we can grow more of our own food.
Andrea Bellamy says
Hey friend! That’s amazing. I’ve been eyeing your garden photos with joy (and a little envy, I must say – spring still feels a ways off here) – you’ve become quite the green thumb. xo (PS would love to visit!)
I love the “flowers” then and now!!! Actually I love it all! Well-written as always, looking forward to reading more!
Andrea Bellamy says
Thanks, sister. Love you!
This is such a lovely reflection on the Then and Now, and beautiful piece of storytelling.