GRATITUDE - MARGARET TANNER


BEING GRATEFUL FOR SMALL THINGS - MARGARET TANNER

 

I am grateful for many things. Good health, happy family and fond childhood memories. The thing that really sicks in my mind when it comes to gratitude is the garden of my childhood home, and the produce grown there. To say it was life-saving would be an understatement.

My parents didn’t have much money when I was young. I didn’t really think that much about it at the time, but as I grew older I suddenly realized that my mother was a genius when it came to running the household on meagre amounts of money. She was also a great cook.

My father returned from the 2nd World War carrying injuries, the physical ones we knew of but not the psychological ones. He had a heart attack in the early 1950’s when I was very young, and he could no longer work. Things were tough as we had to survive on a small military pension. He should have received a much larger pension but somehow never did.

No matter how bad things got, we were never hungry or dressed in ragged clothes, and we had a roof over our heads. Luckily my parents had paid off our house before Dad got sick.

Dad had a wonderful garden and we were very thankful for the produce he grew there. Tomatoes were his speciality. He loved them and grew heaps of them. I can still remember the tomatoes, we ate them raw, in salads, cooked, fried, steamed. Green tomato pickle, tomato sauce, chutney, tomato relish. You name it, mum cooked it. She used to preserve tomatoes so we could have them all year long. 

Looking back on things now I realize I should be grateful for the humble tomato, it certainly kept our bellies full.  I can’t even recall how many different dishes mum used to make with tomatoes as a base.

Apples were another thing Dad grew well. We had about six different varieties of apple trees growing in the garden. Once again Mum, baked them, stewed them and preserved them. We used to pick them green sometimes and store them in the roof cavity of the house and they would ripen up there. They lasted for months. Potatoes were another one of his specialties. I firmly believe to this day that it was the garden that kept Dad sane. He used to spend hours there.

So, I am grateful for my mother’s cooking expertise and other housekeeping skills and my father’s gardening skills, otherwise life would have been grim.

My early upbringing has stayed with me and I think that is why I mainly write about heroines who are poor and doing it hard. I can’t remember ever having written a rich heroine in any of my stories. As for my heroes, well they are always rich, arrogant and tough men who are redeemed by a gentle heroine who is strong because she has survived the tough times.

In my novel, Falsely Accused, the heroine is exiled to the penal colony of Australia for a crime she did not commit. She has to survive the degradation and desperation of the convict ship, and once she disembarks, her problems increase a hundredfold.

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