When you look at life and struggle, a seed of hope appears inside. The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 found my family not in the best its shape. We just temporarily (ha!) moved from a three-room apartment to a one-room apartment. I mean me with my anxiety, my sick husband, my very active four-year-old daughter and golden retriever, her faithful companion in all games. We were going to buy another spacious apartment, make repairs and move there. We didn’t think we’d be in such a small space for that long. When quarantine was announced, we tried not to lose heart, but it was difficult: the apartment where we found ourselves was far from perfect, we were cramped, and we could not spend a lot of time in nature as before. However, generous gifts can be obtained from nothing. I just tried to do something and it worked.

Watermelon’s photo by Daria Hidden

I brought flowerpots with me from my previous apartment. There I tried to plant flowers on the balcony, but nothing grew. When we found out about the quarantine, I sent my husband to the store for all sorts of necessary things and asked him to buy flower seeds and earth in addition. I thought that gardening is not a bad idea to entertain a child within four walls. However, my husband mixed everything up and bought watermelon seeds instead of flower seeds.

I understood the fact that I need to settle in a new apartment for an indefinite time, so I began to make myself comfortable and brought indoor plants (two small flowers and one small tree) to the balcony. We ordered garden chairs and a rug. It turned out to be comfortable (moreover, it was additional room where we can spend time), but too sad: there were few plants, but I really wanted to be somewhere in the garden. Then I took out all the pots that I had and started filling them with earth together with my daughter. We planted basil, arugula and cockweed seeds. We also separated the plants I already had, as it was possible. I did not intend to plant a watermelon (Konstantin, how could you not buy a single flower!), but my daughter was very interested in how it is possible to grow a large watermelon from a small seed. Then, purely for educational purposes, I took the smallest blue pot and my daughter planted five seeds in it.

It turned out that the balcony faces south in this apartment and everything started growing quite well. Within a few days, strong sprouts hatched in the blue pot. I saw them with surprise, but without enthusiasm and thought: they will not survive for long. Nevertheless, they grew. We more and more often ran out onto the balcony to look at our little garden. We began to drink tea there and play board games, chat, listen to music and read books. It was the only place where I could meditate without interference. Soon the watermelon needed more space, and we carefully transplanted the sprouts into the largest pot we had.

Lockdown was over, but we got sick with coronavirus almost immediately. I lay in a fever for a week; I only interested in my daughter’s health. I just slept, ate and went to the toilet. My husband and daughter, fortunately, turned out to be stronger than me. On the first day when the worst was over, I woke up with interest: where are my family? I found them on the balcony. I had no strength for anything yet, so I settled down comfortably in a chair and watched them play. Suddenly I saw the watermelon. By that time, I had completely forgotten about it, but it was alive! My husband watered it all this time. This little green friend surprised me with its flowers; I didn’t even know what they looked like before. The watermelon had already grown long stems, and we had to find a higher place for its stems to fall. It was clear that we would not wait for the fruit, but its yellow flowers were so beautiful. It seemed they say: no matter what happens, life exists. I went out to the balcony at any opportunity and jealously watched the life going very close. Without me? No way!

Finally, we recovered, but we still did not have the strength to live an active life. We spent a lot of time at home and enjoyed beautiful sunset from our balcony in the evenings. By the beginning of autumn, we hung up light bulbs there and brought blankets; we like drinking hot tea with a view. The leaves on the trees outside the window turned yellow, and I looked at the watermelon and felt inexpressible gratitude towards it. I was grateful for the summer we still had, for my daughter’s laughter and interest, for the rivalry in the desire to live and for the friendly reminder that it is possible to live.

With the advent of cold weather, I began to take everything away from the balcony. When the turn came to the watermelon, my hand trembled. I waited until it dried out and only then took it away. I carefully cut and arranged its long stems in circles in a garbage bag as if I were making a nest. I was so sad that life could not be extended. I put everything on the floor, but I couldn’t throw it out the same day. I was so sorry to part with the watermelon, but after all that, I realized that this ability to grow something and to make my life better is inside me. It stayed. Besides, in case of trouble, there is always a couple of seeds.

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