Friday, 2 May 2014

Lessons From the Garden

It has always been a pleasure of mine to wander in the garden early in the morning: the new growth, the golden slant of morning light, the birdsong, the sparkle of dew or frost in the grass... Weather permitting I always used to spend at least half an hour out there after letting the chickens and geese out, checking progress or problems in the veggie patch and admiring the beauty of the garden in all weathers and seasons. That was when my main job was growing our food and minding the smallholding. Nowadays my changed circumstances mean I work outside the home and my once productive kitchen garden is reduced to a few perennial vegetables and soft fruit bushes that mostly mind themselves, a few potatoes in tyres, tomatoes in the greenhouse and one lone raised bed of salad leaves, radishes and Chinese vegetables (I am however intent in licking it back into better shape, which includes this year planting up a much improved herb garden).

But at weekends and on rare days like this when I have a little spare time it is still a pleasure to get out there and just soak up the sun and the sounds and sights and smells.

In May the garden and the surrounding countryside change on an almost daily basis - new leaves unfurl, change colour and opacity and shape, new flowers appear in sudden bursts of colour, the grass grows so fast you can almost see it. Birds that seemingly only yesterday were pairing up have somehow built nests, laid and hatched their brood and are busy feeding their hungry fledglings. Baby rabbits scamper in fields occupied by young lambs and calves. No wonder Beltane is such a powerfully life-affirming festival. The Earth at this time of year seems to positively hum with life-energy.

This morning as I wandered, everything I saw seemed to hold a message. A limp, uprooted feverfew plant I had rescued from a compost heap and re-potted has perked right up which probably means it's re-rooted successfully (where there's life there's hope - or perhaps, everything deserves a second chance). A strange shock of leaves right at the top of a hazel which is yet to come fully into leaf itself turned out to be a honeysuckle which by sheer force of will had managed to scramble about 15' all the way up through the hazel and right to the top (if you keep trying eventually you will find the light). A white butterfly paused in its dancing flight to sip from a blackthorn blossom (take time to enjoy the beauty that crosses your path). All these messages have resonance for me. Today I remind myself of hope and second chances, the power of persistence and the importance of pleasure.

My garden may be overgrown but it is beautiful, and so, so wise!


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