Everywhere around me this morning my eye catches the vibrating reflections of sunlight on water, on spider-web filament, the veil-like wings of bee. It is beautifully warm with a crisp gentle breeze blowing quiet notes in the background. I can barely hear the water as it goes over the falls; only the vibrant movement of the sun’s reflected journey through the rocks tells of its aliveness. There is such stillness today; a feeling of lightness and clarity in the garden. Like the wide held arms of a welcoming Mother she gathers me in.
I sit, the sun warming my face and arms, feeling back in time to all those who sat before me experiencing that same golden kiss. I glory in a visitation from the gentle Mother, her quiet presence a harbinger to new and exciting possibilities. At first I think she has held her breath; but no, there is a gentle, even pulsing. Time slows down, the garden breathes in and out in time with Her breath as she prepares for rest. I know that soon, she will withdraw to her bower; days will shorten further and icy cold will be evidence of her unavailability. She leaves us reminders of her love in the glorious reds and oranges of dying leaves, winter flowering Kniphofias and Agaves; the flames of the hearth in lieu of the rays of the sun. She cares for us even in the darkest days as she incubates the new world, soon to be reborn.
As autumn begins to take up the space left behind by a slowly retreating summer, the fruits of the season are ready for harvest. Today I collected Feijoas from a friend’s orchard. They lie under the trees in rich abundance, their gorgeous scent stimulating memories of previous year’s ingestion.
It has been a pleasant week; lots of sunshine after a heavy and extended, but desperately needed, rain. All of a sudden, the possibility of planting out the many inhabitants of my shade house became a reality. Along with planting out comes the usual removal of plants which have positioned themselves in the ‘wrong’ place. As the primary designer (or so I tell myself) I follow my plan. As Mother Nature is cleverer than me She sometimes positions plants with such superb skill I can only marvel. Other times She likes to play a practical joke! I am fortunate in having kind friends who are happy to ‘rehome’ plants that are in overabundance.
There are the odd few, however, whose reputations have gone before them and I cannot, in good conscience, give them away. I’ve just spent some time in my veggie garden removing Oxalis bulbs, one of my least enjoyed immigrants. It is such a large family and some are terribly well-behaved whilst others are nothing short of hooligans who take over and create hours of weeding work. As I squat digging them out with my trusty Niwashi I wonder what lesson I’m learning from these vigourous/annoying garden overstayers. I keep in mind they were invited here by my gardening ancestors; perhaps it’s unfair to label them so negatively. A little more tolerance and I can see how, in their roundabout way, they keep bringing me back to the veggie garden; my hands returning to the soil, keeping the connection.
Feelings of peace exchange places with annoyance. A nod of thanks to Oxalis and I go back to the house and wash up ready to reward myself for a good days work with the delightful scent and taste of Feijoas.
Autumn’s glory sheds her skirts
the veil of grey sky protects her
as, Artemis-like, she bathes
in the gentle morning rain.
Layer by layer her skirts float off
carried by a playful zephyr
exposing daily, more and more of her
beautiful bone structure.
Soon she will stand naked,
proud before all eyes
and wait, quiescent
knowing that the eternal tailor
has a new spring range
designed especially for her.
A joyful flush of new flowers to inspire and uplift.
My exhaustion is reflected in the exhaustion and desiccation of my garden. No rain means no reviving. Our spirits are dried out and desperate for renewal. I’ve been watching the horizon intently for signs of Autumn’s approach. I’ve even Autumn-cleaned my house. All in readiness for the long-awaited arrival whose accompanying entourage will embellish the garden with shades of red, gold and orange. Plump raindrops will freshen grass, late seasons fruit will swell and sweeten. Harvest will be upon us and we will revel in its abundance; only let it be soon….
Well, it’s not much, dear friends, but we have had rain! Long enough and slow enough to sink in and do some good. Everywhere the garden is reviving; new shoots show themselves, the last flushes of flowers bloom. The weather is still warm, a gentle heat the harbinger of Autumn – a warmth that encourages me out into the garden again. Unlike the Northern Hemisphere where gardens are left to ‘over-winter’ because the ground is too cold and hard, here my garden must ‘over-summer’. Dry earth is hard too and cultivation leads to desiccation. As well, the gardener is fanning herself in the shade of the grape-covered pergola so no chance of work from her! This is my time out, my siesta of contemplation and creativity – plans for reinvigouration unfold. Then, as the harshness of the sun declines out I go, like the Monarch breaking free from the chrysalis, into a new relationship with my garden. As I wandered around today reacquainting myself with old friends I noticed two bees drinking from the bird bath. In greeting them they expressed deep gratitude for the rain; a hardworking bee needs constant availability of shallow water and this had been hard to sustain. There is a feeling of newness and possibility alive in the garden; a freshness which speaks of unlimited possibilities. This is my favourite time of the year and I can feel a childlike excitement building as though after too long a confinement. No more stultifying humidity, no more total immersion in sunscreen, so much more freedom. In unison, my soul and the garden sigh with relief!