It starts with a frost. A peek out the window confirms that staying in bed a moment or two longer is ok. In fact it is more than ok, it is encouraged. The dogs agree. Once feed they return to claim a spot on the bed, not touching each other - Atlas’s rules and happily sleep the morning off. There is the odd snore and the occasional twitch of a leg but other than it is quiet.
Tea is required.
I read my book nestled in bed, taking comfort from the thought that a frosty morning means a sunny day. A sunny day means time in the garden. What more do you need.
When I do finally get out into the garden, I am dressed in my favourite sweater, old jeans and gumboots. The sweater is blue, marl blue, woollen (of course) and patched within in a inch of itself. It was purchased from a Toast clothing sale a number of years ago. I realise that it will most likely be our last outing together as I can feel a thinness at the elbow which no amount of darning will patch. If I do try to patch it again, it will end up being more patch than jumper. We have had a good innings, the two of us, jumper and human. I start looking for a replacement but can’t find the right blue.
Before heading outside I open the house up. I love indoor outdoor flow and long for a house with sliding or french doors so you can wander in and out at will. I love having all the windows open and do so today. As it becomes warm and thoughts of frost fade away I want to banish the winter from the house. I want to smell the outside world inside. I want to feel and smell the freshness of the new season about to unfold.
I read a phrase ‘Garden like an elephant’. It was written by Henk Gerritsen from his book ‘Essay on Gardening” It is the first time I have read a book which has referrals on the back cover from other garden authors and two of them use the word “idiosyncratic”. It gives a hint to Henk’s style of writing. (Henk was a buddy to Piet.) Henk writes a very interesting narrative and I do come to have a appreciation for his non nonsense and highly personal views on gardening. He does write some interesting phrases such as ‘gardening like an elephant’. I think there was also a reference to gardening like a goat as well. In Henk’s world elephant gardening occurs at certain times of the year when you approach tree and shrub trimming like an elephant. Chomping back big swaths of vegetation. For me gardening like an elephant is how I feel being back in the garden after winter. I am clumsy and sway about the place as I find my footing again amongst plant and soil. My gum boots trend ungracefully all over the place. I am sure I squash little seedlings. The soil still recovering from endless rain compacts under my feet. Yes, I am gardening like an elephant.
As I garden along the path that leads to the honey house from the front door ( I seem to very haphazard in my approach to where I garden this spring), I clear away the old foliage of last season. I am a spring clean up kind of girl, rather than doing an autumn tidy up. There is something very satisfying about chopping back dried stems and flower heads and as you do you see appearing at the base the small hints of new season growth. It feels encouraging.
I find poppy seedlings still in the dried poppy seed head. Little flecks of green emerge as tiny little seed heads, massed together, head towards light. I am amazed that a poppy flower comes from something so tiny. I am also amazed that I saw it and didn’t just remove the seedlings as a garden waste headed straight for the compost. It makes me wonder what else I missed.
I garden for a couple of hours. A garden table is started to be built by the other half. I love it when we are all in the garden together. Different corners of the garden maybe in use but we are together, pottering away. I head inside. Gum boots kicked off at the door with a surprising amount of dirt inside them. My socks are a bit muddy but as I am the cleaning lady I stomp inside anyway. No one to argue with. I wash my hands. I garden without gloves. I like the feel of soil on my hands. I like less so the dry hands after gardening so I have spent some time hunting out soap which cleans without drying your skin. My current favourite is from Saipua. It does cost a few pennies but I cut the soap in thirds and it does last a while. I also love that my little purchase helps support the amazing journey that the soap creator is on. Sarah runs a farm in the US and is trying to figure out how to farm in a way that is less focused on capitalist outcomes. It is not an easy task but I admire her passion, as well her style talents with flowers. She is a good story teller as well. My current one soap is Vetiver with French Green Clay. The hand washing is then followed by lemon grass hand cream from Wellington Apothecary. The smell is refreshing and reminds me of time travelling through Asia. I love how smells bring back memories.
Tea is made and I sit outside. For a moment. Just sit breathing in the beauty of the day. Appreciating the frosty start that lead to a sunny day in the garden. It is a very deep and satisfying breath.
Monday. Back at my work desk. Minutes pass slowly. A little angry red spot is swelling on my finger. It hurts to touch. A prickle from my weekend’s work in the garden. Weirdly a pleasant reminder of a day well spent.
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