Himself and I are returning to New Zealand after an absence of two and a half years while living and working in Al Ain in United Arab Emirates. It’s been quite the experience. So many sensations and soon to be memories. In the time we’ve been in UAE, I haven’t gardened – not even one pot plant. I haven’t blogged. I had enough of being on a computer at work. Instead, there have been places to see. People to meet. Life to live beyond work. Shopping to do in Dubai. Arabic culture to enjoy. Al Ain is a city with a remarkable history of ancient people who first lived and farmed here thousands of years ago. Al Ain is a city of oases, of public parks, of trees and of date palms. So I’ve been content to look at gardens in our travels, to listen to Emirati voices from the past tell their stories, to learn and marvel at the miracle of the greened swathes of desert. Water is so scarce and so precious, I’m staggered at the determined effort to irrigate on such a large-scale. Meanwhile, a world away, news from home always seemed to be about some storm or floods and heavy rain. Water in excess. I have learned to live with the desert dust and extreme heat. Soon enough, I will face the frosts and pull on my gumboots to slosh through our soggy paddocks.
Wonder how my garden has been without me? Do I really want to know? Will our cat remember us? I know Turbo Toddler (can’t really call him that now as he’s nearly five – and here’s a thought, will we recognise the grandkids after nearly three years?) kept a close eye on the cattle. Did Number 2 Son ever pick up that trowel? At least it will springtime and I can view the fruit trees in blossom with fresh eyes. Time to re-think the garden perhaps. Time to write up those travel notes. Who knows. Things have a way of happening at the right time – like finding my spade among our things we put in storage. Above all, it will the best of times catching up with our family.