This afternoon when I went out to the greenhouse for tomatoes, I got to thinking about the protection that a greenhouse offers. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that we all use greenhouses, and the best of us create them.
The greenhouse is a refuge for those tropical plants we love so much—tomatoes, peppers, and basil. My unheated tunnel can’t protect the plants from a hard freeze, but it protects them from frost and gives them just enough extra warmth to ripen up those last autumn fruits. It also protects tender seedlings from fickle spring weather.
Not everyone has a greenhouse for vegetables, but we all make use of metaphorical greenhouses.
We provide greenhouses for our kids. We try to protect them just enough to give them extra time to grow and mature until they’re ready to brave the elements alone. We provide them a refuge—a place where they are loved, accepted, and safe from emotional and physical harm.
But it’s not just children who need metaphorical greenhouses. We adults need them, too. Yesterday, my son interviewed me for a school assignment about the factors that help us to be resilient in the face of adversity. It struck me that a large part of being resilient is having a refuge, a “greenhouse” that will take the edge off harsh conditions.
We can make greenhouses for others. When the earthquakes struck in Christchurch, neighbours created greenhouses for one another by pitching in wherever they could—shovelling liquefaction, sharing food, and offering shoulders to cry on. My husband has provided a greenhouse of unwavering support as I muddle through my current emotionally fraught career change.
We can make greenhouses for ourselves, too—places (physical or mental) where we allow ourselves to rest, where we cultivate things that bring us comfort.
When we make greenhouses for our kids, our friends, and ourselves, we all take shelter in them. So go ahead, be a greenhouse maker.