A couple of days ago we had the privilege and joy to share our home and garden with some long anticipated visitors. Josie is a member of our family that is 17 years old and autistic. For about five years she has been attending an outreach service where she spends time with other young people with additional needs. Together they cook, go to the cinema, go horseback riding and do many other things. Last year a few of the girls from outreach came to visit us for a picnic down by our stream, in the gazebo. Unfortunately it was raining and we could not walk around the garden as much as we wished but it was still a lovely afternoon.
Our gazebo decorated for last years visit.
This year, since we have finished our extension build we decided to start off their visit with a percussion session with our neighbour and friend, Debbie Beirne, who is an excellent drumming facilitator. You can read about her work here.
At twelve noon six excited teenage girls arrived and gathered around the drums in the roundhouse. We had a lovely couple of hours beating away on the drums, laughing, singing and enjoying each other’s company. Debbie had brought along her beautiful Balafon, an African version of a xylophone, and each of us took turns playing on it while the rest of the group kept a steady beat going on the drums. It was great to watch the smiles on the girl’s faces as they each played softly with two sticks to create beautiful music on the Balafon.
Josie and Debbie playing on the Balafon.
After our drumming session we all walked down the garden path to enjoy all the picnic food the girls had brought along and listen to the relaxing gurgling of the stream. It was the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures in the high twenties so our gazebo was a lovely cool place to gather in.
After the food the adults took a walk around the garden to look at flowers and talk about plants. Only Paul remained in the gazebo and Josie sang songs for the visitors, accompanied by Paul on the guitar. As the rest of us walked around it was lovely to hear the sound of music and laughter coming from the gazebo and catch glimpses of the girls enjoying themselves.
We have created our garden as a source of food for ourselves, a refuge for wildlife and a place to grow medicinal herbs and flowers. But most importantly we want it to be a place for people to meet and enjoy each other’s company. This was one of the first organized gatherings in our house and garden but we are planning and hoping for many more. It has been a long process and hard work at times to get our place into the state it is now. Having Josie’s friends around felt like a reward for all our efforts. In the future we are planning to have open gardens; hopefully some willow basketry making gatherings and lots of musical events. We hope Debbie will join us often in the future.