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Glamping In The Garden

Last week, the BC Parks’ website and their phone lines were swamped with people trying to make reservations for campsites all around the province for the spring and summer. Some friends of ours have a fifth wheel, and they spent three hours just trying to make one reservation. Eventually, they managed to book a few campsites on Vancouver Island, with dates spread out over the summer and into the fall. Camping is their joy.

Well, it’s not really “camping” in a fifth wheel…it’s what they call “glamping”.

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I am not a camper. I can't afford one of those big rigs so I'd be the one with the tiny, poor excuse for a tent, the moth-infested sleeping bag and the rusted propane stove. Nuh uh.

I understand the back-to-nature thing. I love my walks, even when they're not in the forest or by the ocean. But I find the most peace and joy in my own yard. My own garden. On a spring or summer weekend evening, you will find me wandering around it with a glass of wine in hand, inspecting and admiring my work. That's my glamping.

Just as I am not a camper, I was not born a gardener. My Dad, however, had a knack for it and was known around our neighbourhood for his beautiful landscaping and neatly trimmed lawn.

I started out more like his father, my grandfather, who bought an apple orchard from a guy in Peachland in the late 1920s without knowing the difference between "dormant" and "dead" trees. As it turned out, half of them were dead and he'd been swindled. Yeah, I was more like that.

When my husband and I bought our first house, I didn't know the difference between a weed and a...well, pretty much anything else. I'm sure I killed numerous legitimate plants for no good reason other than I didn't know what they were. Whenever my Dad would visit us, he would help me out by weeding and cleaning the yard up. But I was pretty useless.

By the time we moved to our second house five years later, Dad made the decision that we were on our own with the yard work. Our new house was on a corner lot and had SO many more flower beds and a lot more lawn. I don't blame him for bowing out.

Everything in the yard was a mess for years as our daughters grew up. Finally, one day we decided that we would focus on fixing it up, and we hired some garden pros to give us some tips and advice. I remember the couple well. They were British, probably in their 60s at the time. But mostly I remember the look on their faces as they took a look around. "Holy crap. Amateurs." is the expression I saw.

They wrote down some names of things, bushes and plants, and gave us some advice on our fence and how we might re-think our lawns, and then left it to us to figure the rest out. I kind of took the position of head gardener, while my husband took over care of the lawns.

I could not propagate for the life of me. I spent gobs money on all kinds of plants, and promptly put them in the wrong spots, and then forgot about them, thinking they would take care of themselves. Dead, dead, dead. I didn't know a perennial from a pollinator. But I persisted. I dug up the dead stuff and started again. I tried different plants in better places. And I weeded. And weeded. And weeded. And then, slowly, my gardens started to blossom.

Over time, I've not only come to terms with my garden, I've come to love it. Mostly, I've become much better at taking care of it. And now my next door neighbour has garden envy. Just the other week, she was outside chatting with me while I was working in one of the flower beds. She said "I wouldn't know what a weed was if it hit me in the face! How do you tell?"

I thought about it.

"Well, I think of a weed as pretty much anything that I don't want," I said with a smart ass smirk.

"That's good! That's good! I'll remember that!" she laughed.

She's an amateur. But I have finally taken root.

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The Grand Re-Opening. Sort of…

I made the decision a couple of weeks ago that this would be my week to venture back into teaching guitar. I teach out of my home, so I pretty much had to decide for myself how things might be changed around to allow for the protocols that need to be in place now; physical distancing, keeping everything clean and disinfected, and signage to remind students of everything they needed to do, too.

When you’ve been doing things a certain way for 30 years, it takes a fair amount of brain function to change it up, but I think I’ve figured it out. I’m sure there are a lot of people, especially in smaller businesses, who are doing their best to wrap their heads around this new reality. We’re in different times.

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One of the first things I did was go to the WorkSafe BC website where they have a section called “Returning To Safe Operation” for businesses and facilities opening up, to know what protocols need to be in place. I downloaded some posters to use as signage, I marked out the proper spacing between myself and my students on the floor in the studio. I bought new music stands that are easier to clean, got cleaning supplies ready, and I worked out a plan for students to follow when they arrived back. I even recorded a video to send to them so they could see what changes I was making and would know what to do when they got here.

I emailed them all and sent a link to the video.

So far, so good.

About half of my students have returned, which is more or less what I expected. Some of them would have been in classes of 3 or more, and so far, that’s too many people to have together in my small studio yet. Maybe one day soon.

Some students are more nervous than others, or not ready to return for various reasons. I understand that. It’s been rough for a lot of us.

And some may never return. I’m prepared for that.

I’ve been rescheduling returning students with a little time in between each one so I can clean and disinfect between lessons.

So they come in the door, they sanitize their hands, they leave their guitar cases out in the waiting area, they bring their guitars and music into the studio, they tune on their own or with my help, and we begin to play. Then we start to smile a little as the music kind of lifts us up. We can’t help but share some of our stories in between songs. It’s a little like coming back to life.

I’ve been thinking about all the students, clients and customers that have been returning to different businesses this past week. The conversations they must be having, the laughs (behind face masks in some cases!), the getting back to something that almost feels normal. For small businesses like mine, our clients are not just our source of income, they sometimes become good friends. I’ve been teaching some of my students for 10 or 15 years.

These are relationships we’ve all been missing.

For those of you with small businesses or who are self-employed like me, I’m rootin’ for you. If we do everything as we’re told by those in charge, over time it’ll get better. Even if we have that dreaded second wave, I think we can anticipate what to do, and ride it out.

And thanks to my students who’ve done everything the way I asked them to.

Some of them even practiced a little 🙂

IJ