Being a parent is full of very simple pleasures that make you smile without even knowing your doing it. I am sure I have smiled more since Max has been on the scene than ever before. Watching on as Max reads a book to himself or makes a new friend at the park will have me grinning from ear to ear, these moments are best enjoyed from afar, not unlike stalking.
Another simple pleasure that we enjoy year round is feeding Max from our allotment. One of the best decisions we have made during our five year Antipodean Adventure was getting a plot at Veg Out Community Gardens in St Kilda (http://www.vegout.asn.au/). This is not your usual collection of old farts talking about how things have changed since they were a lad and working on revolutionary ways to kill slugs. Veg Out is vibrant, dynamic, artistic and usually offers someone to share a beer and a natter with at the end of a day’s Dadding and digging.
The allotment is a haven for Dad and Son alike. Max will while away his time feeding the chickens, terrorising the guinea pigs, erecting sand castles, desperately trying to work out how to work a hose or stealthily pilfering strawberries from other plots when he gets peckish. I will simply find a nice bench in the sun, sit back and watch it all unfold, smiling contentedly to myself and thinking how lucky I am (even luckier if I happen to be holding a cold beer at the time).
It raises a few eyebrows amongst friends when we turn down a beer garden in favour of a community one but there is something wonderful about watching your son strip a tomato plant, that you have grown, of its bounty and greedily gobble them up. It requires a little more imagination through the winter mouths when the weather is not quite as welcoming and the veg is overwhelmingly green and not quite as appealing, think cabbages and sprouts.
I have great memories of accompanying my own Dad to his allotment when I was a lad and am sure that it contributed to an appreciation of fresh air and even fresher food. Max is already showing some fingered potential and whilst I am wielding a spade he will happily pick up a trowel and dig like Dad. Father and son usually arrive home from the Gardens a bit smellier, a lot dirtier, a tad tireder and a heap happier.
For the price of a weekly food shop (the annual fee) I have some priceless memories, a ready supply of fresh, organic, tasty food to feed the family and some fantastic friendships. I would whole heartedly encourage others to sniff out (follow the smell of ripe compost and manure) your local Community Gardens or Allotments and enjoy a slice of The Good Life for yourself.