Wild Nectar

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you. Because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”                                     – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory



The September sun is sweet and golden. It filters through the early morning mist and into my lips and nostrils, filling my lungs with cool, fresh air.

Already, parts of the garden are becoming dark, forbidding, hinting at the mysteries to come. A new baby at the start of the summer means that I’ve had little time for weeding and pruning (or, indeed, anything much at all) and everything has grown deleriously wild. The walk to the compost bin has become a gauntlet of cobwebs; the fernery is lush and overgrown to the point of being untraversable by humans (I did, however, spot a frog hopping around in there recently, much to the delight of my daughter); brambles have bounded over the wall untamed, seeking to reclaim patches of earth, repaying us with ripe fistfuls of blackberries.

We are poised in the soft, shimmering space where summer meets autum. The untended parts of the garden have brought pleasant surprises: self-seeded calendula and nasturtiums, splashes of orange and red among the riot of mottled and mellowing leaves, raggedy and unkempt, shining in the glassy, late summer sun. Outside my bedroom window, a passionflower, almost too beautiful and otherwordly to be real, has wound its way around an explosion of budleia bush. It is like opening my curtains to a gift each morning.

Life is necessarily consumed with the domestic work of home and children – the joy and the drudgery, the magic and the chaos – for now. Perhaps that’s why I’m enjoying the wildness of the garden so much. When everything is done in snatched moments and wildness seems far away, a few precious moments here on my own, breathing in the golden mists of the morning or gazing skywards on a clear, starry night, are a bridge back to myself; wild nectar for my soul; a way home.


Autumn Equinox

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy


The dawn comes later now. I rise to greet it, stepping outside the front door in my dressing gown.

My only company at this hour is the birds, kindling the morning light with their bright chatter; the soft, low, rhythmic coo of the wood pigeon, and the moon: a silver thumbnail ringed with purple and gold where the high cloud illuminates its halo. There is an earthy, metallic tang to the air which invites my lungs to expand. The cat pads up, purring wildly, paws soft and wet, coat smelling of damp earth. Poems drip from the mottled, fading bramble leaves like so many dewdrops.

Here at the night’s end, the world is still and cool, rippling with possibilities.

Morning comes. I go about the work of the day. My daughter. The school run. The housework, the laundry. I smudge the house and go to tidy the herb garden, clearing away the dead growth, tending the plants which envelop me in their soft fragrance as I pull and cut.

I harvest fennel, sage, lemonbalm and mint to use in herbal teas and baths.

I pluck the last of the tomatoes which I planted with my daughter in the spring, popping a few straight off the vine into my mouth, savouring the warmth and sweetness of the fruit.

I dead-head and gather the dry, talon-like seeds of the calendula to sow next year, and empty the kitchen peelings into the compost bin to be recycled into rich humus. It’s a joy to be creating my own organic, black soil for this tiny patch of land: reciprocating, in some small way, the gifts it offers me.

By the time I am finished, a still, golden light coats everything it touches in liquid silk. I smooth my fingers over the trunk of the baby ash tree and gaze up at the mother tree, which sways softly in the quickening breeze, bees and songbirds about her boughs, leaves making dappled patterns as though I am underwater, looking up at the surface of a lake.

A branch quivers and dances in a sudden flurry of wind, its leaves glimmering and trembling ever faster. Then a quick, unhesitating thing happens: the leaf, or the tree, or perhaps both, just lets go.

The leaf spirals to the ground in a fluttering motion not unrecognisable as joy.

It just lets go.

Welcome autumn!