Last Saturday, I helped my husband to prepare his allotment, for sowing with a new cycle of plants and seeds. He needed some assistance, because during the long winter months the shelter that he and his partner-in-grime had built over it last year to foil the pigeons (it succeeded) had collapsed under the weight of an unexpectedly heavy fall of snow. Carefully, we untied some dozens of pieces of binder twine and rolled up long lengths of chicken wire to ready them for the grand rebuilding. Improved design, he says, will help to prevent the same happening again; we shall see!
Partly because they were pretty difficult to reach amongst the debris of broken timbers and chicken wire, and partly because we’d had some over-supply, leftovers of last year’s crop remained, a brassica graveyard. Eight or so stalks of blackening Brussels sprouts tilted in a broken rank towards the boundary fence, a row of wounded soldiers at their last gasp. Several misshapen kohl rabi poked from the earth like a giantess’s bunions.
Some heads of red cabbage, severed from their stalks, lay on the ground, broken and rotting, their outer layers turned into slimy winding sheets. Their lone companion, still growing, had grown a new rosette of small heads after the original cabbage had been cut, twisting itself into three dark petalled shapes, a macabre bouquet paying last respects at the funeral. Dried sticks of weed poked through the soil, which glistened unhealthily with a scattering of glossy green clumps of over-wintered willowherb and expanding whorls of nipplewort.
Overhead, the sun shone with real warmth. New purple buds were swelling on the tangle of hawthorn twigs in the gateway. The bees in the adjoining apiary were flying, great tits were two-toning in the hedge and a lone hare loped away over the meadow. Spring was on its way, but I don’t recollect having ever been so vividly aware of the round of decay that must precede renewal.
Oddly, I found it comforting: it was as it should be. And somehow it made me feel more philosophical about death. Each plant and creature has its time. Then comes the Grim Reaper. It is only seemly. And there is something wonderful about the soil which is both grave and nursery; now it is manured and turned, I am reminded of the beauty of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ‘shining-shot furls’ of ploughed land, from which will spring new life.
12 thoughts on “The turn of the season…”
Impressive. What wonderful symbology can cabbages and brussels sprouts conceal!
They may be humble, but we like them… and there’s nothing like tossing a verbal and vegetable mix into the pot… or the post! 😉
Twenty below here (F) on Friday morning. Unusual for us. Looks like another month of winter, however. No break above the freezing mark in the 10-day extended forecast.
You had to dig the rose garden in the fall this year if you planned any mid-winter murders. Too cold to dig otherwise. No telling how many victims the weather has saved.
Probably a busy spring. Certainly is in my library.
Oooh, chilly! I quite agree – disposal of corpses is bad enough under any circumstances, but frozen ground certainly hampers the job! Happy gardening, Jack! 🙂
In the hot Australian summer, lettuces, tomatoes, chilli’s and so get singed and the fruit get sun spots. Watering is a premium, as we have water restrictions so lots of mulching and fertilising to keep the plants strong and making fruit.
My husband has been digging in a generous layer of manure, which he says is crucial to water retention in the soil – and this in rainy England! What it must be like in an Australian summer is almost impossible to imagine, but mulching sounds absolutely essential. I guess you must be in the middle of the harvest season now? I assume the time of harvest varies a lot across such a big place as Australia; I hope that it is successful for you. Thanks, Luciana. 🙂
Right now farmers are picking tomatoes, various melons, lettuces, stone fruit goodness the list goes on! 😀
Christina, that is the beauty of the dormant season. When you think it is all over, then you see that grean sprig to remind you that there is new life budding. Lynn
Lynn, I often wonder about the idea of ‘dormant season’; some years I have seen elder bushes in sheltered spots in leaf before Christmas; we have primroses in one little corner in flower in January, almost every year! Living in the countryside and walking our dog means that we see lots of little details that suggest that Spring is not far away. But you’re right, of course: it is the green sprig which symbolises so much and offers solace and hope even in the darkest hour. Lovely to hear from you and please accept my best wishes. 🙂
Christina, I am sure you see life all the time by living in the countryside. Must be a wonderful place to write! Lynn
I do think, Lynn, that town dwellers see fewer of those subtle changes (though now I’ve said that, someone is bound to step up to challenge!), as they have less opportunity to walk rural routes where every day brings something new or slightly altered in the natural world. The countryside is a rich resource and certainly inspiration and a quiet haven for writers!
Yes, there is always the challenge which keeps us writing! Glad you have that haven to create and share with us. Lynn