I used to be strictly a summer person, but these days I find it harder to decide which season I love the most. Since moving from town to country six years ago I have been able to appreciate that there are not four seasons in the year, but at least a dozen, with perhaps hundreds of mini-seasons layered on top of one another in between.
Even in the bleakest days of winter there are sticky buds appearing on the horse chestnut trees and tiny green shoots emerging from the mud. Now, in early March, those shoots have flowered in my courtyard garden and there are bursts of gold and purple crocus, narcissus and grape hyacinth flowers in pots; the elder tree is budding, the ferns have produced tightly coiled spirals at the root and the wily leaves of the tulips planted in October are snaking upwards towards the light.
There is new growth even before the old has vanished, there is no beginning or end. It’s joyous.
We had a garden once before. We lived in a static caravan for four years, between an oak tree and an apple tree, on two acres of fertile Sussex wealdland. There was a vegetable plot edged with rabbit-proof fencing, six chickens who laid big, fat, orange-yolked eggs every day, green woodpeckers living in the oak tree and yellowhammers and robins and song thrushes. It was a wonderful time, but when the landlady sold the house and land, we had to move on.
Now we’ve got an allotment, we can start again.
Today, I made that start. I bought a little greenhouse and assembled it in my back garden so that I can raise seedlings before transferring them on to the plot. I filled trays with seeding compost and planted climbing beans, rainbow chard and spinach – all left-overs from the seed drawer in the old caravan – as well as some sunflowers, which I love, and sweetcorn.
It felt good to get my hands into the soil, to get out my old watering can and water in the seeds and stack them on the shelves I’d assembled. I’m always slightly incredulous that seeds will actually grow: it seems so far-fetched that such small, lifeless things can hold such magic. Those seeds, those dry, wrinkled, brown kernels, represent for me all the promise of the coming year, how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go.
Speaking of growth, this week I had some writing published. Hooray! Elephant Journal.com published a piece titled ‘A Writer’s Confession’ which describes the painful, but soulful process of getting words on paper. Like any of my poems, I feel mortified at the thought of anyone I know actually reading it. But I’ve learned that if I’m not prepared to share a little of myself, I’m not going to get very far as a writer. I hope you like the article:
There is also a full-page article in parenting magazine ABC on bee-friendly gardening with children (I’m on page 66/68):
To milk the gardening/writing metaphor somewhat (OK I promise this is the last time), though it’s hard for a professional procrastinator with a one year old baby to find time, if I plant seeds and keep watering them, my hope is that eventually, they’ll grow.
Roll on spring.