Lately, as I go to my strawberry bed each morning and gather a little bowl of strawberries, I have been feeling like Lily, the protagonist of my story, ‘Lily and the Fig Tree’. This is the first season in years that I’ve managed to grow plump, tasty strawberries. I attribute my success to learning more from the wise, generous gardeners at the Ballina Community Gardens.

‘Lily and the Fig Tree’ is my version of an English folktale ‘The Old Woman and the Oak Tree’. The old woman chats to the tree each day and unbeknownst to her, it is magical. When marauding children set upon her strawberries, the Oak tree takes action, chasing them away. I set my version in Australia, changed the Oak Tree to a Fig Tree, added frogs, organic gardening methods, a community garden and acknowledged the land had been Aboriginal when the Fig tree was young.

This is the first season I’ve managed to grow plump, tasty strawberries. They look so pretty, they give me pleasure just looking at them. Hunting for them amoung the leaves is fun too. Today, hiding in with them was a lizard- perhaps a land mullet. I love knowing they are organic and free from chemicals. Luckily the birds haven’t found them. Shhh! Don’t tell them! 🙂

My efforts in past years resulted in tiny, sometimes bitter berries, deformed ones or mouldy ones. This is probably because I really didn’t pay them much attention. This year I have had the great fortune to learn from many older, wiser gardeners, (a bit like Lily) at the Ballina Community Gardens, where I volunteer. There, the strawberries grow sweet, fat and juicy. As a result, I finally realised that if I wanted delicious strawberries, I needed to water, weed and feed them regularly. And I also needed to give them love. Which I did. So now, they are loving me back, rewarding me with their luscious bounty.

When I pick and eat my strawberries, I also think of The Legend of the First Strawberry, a very romantic, Cherokee Purquois or Why-it-is-so tale.

Lily and the Fig Tree is the second track on my Story Tree and other nature tales album. The Legend of the First Strawberry is the second track on my ‘Reaching for the Moon and other wisdom tales’ album. You can hear both tracks and listen before buying them here.

An image of a lizard between strawberries

Someone hiding in the strawberry patch