Of Hamsters, Lavender, and Immigration

I freely confess that I had not realized how much the general “What Even Is This” of the last year had affected me until I came to start actually writing this new novel. It turns out that I now have the attention span of a hamster who has slurped down three large mochaccinos. A rather stressed and easily overheated hamster, moreover, with a long to do list.

hamster looking nervous


I have been trying to get into the garden lately as a way of reducing stress, and it has been teaching me some lessons. (#1: There are Always More Weeds.)

Some years ago I planted a lavender and a rosemary under the sitting room windows. (On the outside. I may not sweep the carpet as often as I might, but it’s not that dirty.) The rosemary sickened after a while, so I moved it somewhere I thought it might like better. It perked up for a bit, and then died.

The lavender, on the other hand, is doing nicely. And by nicely I mean the topmost flowers are nearly as tall as my head. Conventional wisdom has it that lavender requires well-drained soil – more sandy than clayey. This lavender has carried on lavending despite being at one point four inches deep in water.

Conventional wisdom also has it that lavender should be pruned back after flowering to prevent it getting grey and dead underneath while growing away into the distance on top. To which I reply: what do you mean, after flowering? I read that snippet of wisdom a couple of years ago and I’m still waiting for it to stop!

Echter Lavendel (Lavandula angustifolia) (9478066937)
Disclaimer: not my lavender. My lavender is partway through a rejuvenation programme and, though large and blooming, is decidedly less photogenic.

The lavender has a lesson to impart: stuff circumstances and bloom where you’re planted. Stress and uncertainty and impaired attention spans may just be how things are now. Carry on anyway. (And if you find yourself partially submerged, pull out a spade and start digging a ditch.)

The rosemary teaches a different lesson, which is that while packing a sad about your circumstances may get you attention and even a change in said circumstances, if you’re going to sulk regardless of improvements to aforementioned circumstances, you’re probably going to run out of sympathy, shrivel up inside, and eventually die. (There’s not much that’s sugar-coated in a garden. Except maybe ant poison.)

So there it is and here we are. Enough of my problems, how about someone else’s? The New Zealand government, in their big push to Be Kind, have been issuing essential worker visas to cricket teams, yacht racing people (by the hundred), film stars, their spouses, their children, etc.

accepted and rejected stamps

Unfortunately they have resolutely refused to make any exceptions for families who have got caught on opposite sides of the border from each other. Spouses have been separated for months or even years; parents haven’t seen their kids for the same length of time – and sometimes they’ve never had a chance to meet them at all.

If this makes you as upset as it makes me (why prioritize elites who come and go over ordinary families building their lives here?) then by all means, make sure your voice is heard. You could have your say in an email to the Prime Minister (jacinda.ardern@parliament.govt.nz), or the Minister of Immigration (kris.faafoi@parliament.govt.nz), or your local MP (firstname.lastname@parliament.govt.nz is a good bet).

Or even easier, you could nip across to the Parliament website and put your name on the “Don’t break up families, let them get together” petition (closes 31st Jan).

I did.

Because I do not support the tasteless Victorian style of gardening where brightly coloured flowers are grown out of sight, planted out for a brief and garish display, and then binned when they’re past their best. On the contrary, I support the growing of perennials, and I particularly support getting out of the way of them improving their own conditions and making a long-term contribution to the beauty of the garden.

G Jekyll enclosed garden

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