Monday, 7 September 2009


When I was young, I would sometimes go for a drive with my father. Late spring, just after planting. We would drive for what seemed like a long time (today I know it wasn't very far), stop, then walk into the still empty maize field. He would crouch down in the red dust and gently scratch open a couple of seeds, see how many were germinating, whether they could escape the hard crust formed after a light shower , then close it up again. Wipe his hand, then walk a few meters further, then check again. I now find myself doing the same.

It started with a bonfire, about a month ago. The chicken coop was moved to the back of the garden and a heap of garden debris was burnt. Fire is strangely satisfying. And, happily, it freed up about half the garden for new horticultural experiments. And it was in dire need of attention. My primary need is for a usable space. Somewhere to sit, chat, have a glass of wine, read. Herbs. Wine. A flower too. Some bulbs maybe? And at the same time balancing the needs of the others with equal rights to the garden.

Brambles had to be tamed, the soil turned over and rubble removed, much of it looking as if it had been there since the war. My spade discovered the stump and roots of a forgotten tree: golden chips against the dark soil. And bulbs, probably bluebells. I perspired. The chaos slowly dissolved, eventually allowing us to move our current few meters of lawn from one side of the garden to the newly flattened earth. This will be where the table goes, at a future barbecue. So it makes sense to place the established grass here. The areas previously covered by grass will be have herbs and edible leaves. Maybe some veg too. It's been years since I last grew my own vegetables.

This weekend saw the latest instalment. The definite arrival of autumn encouraging me to at least get something in the ground before the winter shutdown begins. The last mound of debris was levelled, ground stamped firm, levelled again. A rake would have helped. And then I could dip my hand into a bag of seed, and scatter across the soon-to-be-lawn. Sowing by hand has an ancient rhythm, a calming one. Then, while soaking the ground, think about where to shrubbery should go, where to bulk up the hedge, where the sun shines and where people move.

Now I crouch down every day, discreetly scratch the top layer of dirt away, willing the dormant seeds to life.


Marie said...

Eina, so mooi geskryf.



Marie said...

Terloops, ek het gedink ek sal eers post en dan vra: :-)

Ge-link na jou pos, by my blog.

jvdh said...

Deur die opwinding van die proses te deel, raak dit net meer rewarding.


donna said...

Bliss, indeed.