Reasons why we did come here…

Having spent the last two weeks playing with my nephews who were visiting me from the old country, I always question why we came here at all. Why did we leave behind our friends, whom I still miss keenly? Why put myself through the airport snot and trauma of tearful goodbyes with my family? And most of all, how can I justify missing my superhero nephews grow up?

Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder. If I were still living at home, is it possible that we’d take each other for granted? Would we perhaps not bother taking the time out to build forts (that look more like homeless encampments)?


One thing’s for sure – If I lived at home this fort would be a mush of soggy cardboard right now. My nephews still would not have experienced camping – why camp in the rain in Ireland when you can camp in the sunshine in California on the doorstep to Yosemite National Park?

I probably wouldn’t have had such a great crop of beetroot for the beetroot-monster in our family.

Hands up – who loves beetroot?

Though you can grow beetroot very successfully back home, the weather discouraged me from doing as much gardening as I do now. Back in Ireland the rain put me off so many of the activities that I love to do here.

And I almost certainly wouldn’t have had the chance to share the great excitement we had in picking out first almond crop, successfully saved from scavenging squirrels.

I was bitterly disappointed when my nephews informed me that they didn’t like tomatoes (the start of a long list of dislikes for the four-year-old in particular – Please God, let it just be a stage he’s going through, and thank God, he still likes beets!)

Regardless of their likes and dislikes, my tomatoes are coming in beautifully. I had a great crop of Dr Whycees, a variety I am trialing for Santa Clara Master Gardeners. They are orange and very sweet and juicy.

Even though I pleaded with my nephews to try this one, they still claimed that they didn’t like it. Hardly surprising, since their definition of tasting something is to briefly touch it with the tip of their tongue. But it meant more of my favorite tomatoes for me, so I didn’t argue.

I was delighted to see how impressed they were with the flowers. They even begged me to let them plant stuff. Unfortunately I have no room in the garden right now, and even if I had, I’d be hard pressed to come up with something that would thrive in the hot days of mid-August. They were placated by being permitted to pick these unusual dark sunflowers to present to their Mummy.

This sunflower had been just a bud before we left for our four day camping trip to Groveland, California. The boys were thrilled when they came home and saw that it had grown nearly two feet and blossomed.

Despite its proximity to the zinnia, they weren’t tempted to try the kale.

Their curiosity was peaked by the huge Sibley, but these winter squashes won’t be ready for at least another month, maybe more.

My sister loved the weather here. Maybe that’s why we are here. She joked that this was a cloudy day.


Why so funny? Well, on a cloudy day the sky is pewter by Irish standards!

Bottom line – it’s the climate that keeps me here. Their visit had the backdrop of golden sunny days. While they where here the garden rang with laughter and and quite often the spectacular a cappella soundtrack of the baddies being beaten by the superheros, complete with sword swishes, explosions and whizzing I-dunno-whats.

As I mourn for my old friends, new ones are cementing themselves into my heart, not replacing the old ones, but wiggling in and making that friendship space bigger and better. I still know where my old friends are, and like my family, they’ll never be far from my thoughts. I treasure more the times we do have together for the infrequency of them.

So, as I sit in the once again quiet serenity of the garden, watching the lizards poke theirs heads up as if to ask, “Is it safe to come out again?” I know that I can’t have it all and I’m happy with what I do have. Two weeks a year (minimum) of madcap mayhem is merely a huge gi-normous bonus!

 Byddi Lee

Groveland on Dwellable

3 replies to Reasons why we did come here…

  1. I know what you mean, not because i am like you but because many of my relatives are. Unfortunately, we don't have much money here for the tickets, so i just content myself in hearing that my close friend's backyard is the Everglades or that my cousins are in California. I want to visit gardens abroad but haven't seen many because official visits are always limited. I didn't know that the US have greener grass than Ireland, i thought everything in UK is greener :-)) By the way another lovely thing about being in another country is that you always think you are on vacation!

  2. Hi Andrea

    You're right – the grass is greener in Ireland! I feel like it's the only thing that grows better there than here. But I'm sure there are other things that do… things that like cold damp weather.

    I hope you get a chance to visit those gardens abroad and to travel to meet up with your family members abroad.

  3. What a great blog post, Byddi! You're so good about letting us into your life. I couldn't get over the quality of the photos, though the ones I most enjoyed were of your superhero nephews. Unbelievably cute.

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