Yesterday was the first morning of sunshine in quite a few days and it beckoned me ceaselessly to come out into the garden. Over the winter many jobs got left undone and now I had a surfeit of choice. Where to start? Down to the vege patch I went, surveying the posts planted around the edges of the garden which will, eventually, support the anti-rabbit mesh. Anyone who has read Beatrix Potter will immediately recognise me as a present day Mr MacGregor. My greens have been ravished; I’ve taken to planting in the glasshouse so we actually get some food!
I have to say that this didn’t bring out the best in me; I know bunnies are cute but the are devastation on four legs with a fluffy tail! So now, feeling provoked I turned my vengeful gaze on my potting shed and its numerous inhabitants. It too, hasn’t seen much of me over the winter. A new granddaughter was being incubated and she arrived at the beginning of June; so I’ve been Grandma-ing not gardening. Now was the time to take up the reins again. It was no surprise to see the mass colonisation of spiders; nature will encourage all her creatures to do that. After my rabbit-reflections I was in just the right mood to to deal with spiders. Generally, I’m not afraid of spiders and actually find some quite beautiful, but these had to go. I am not Arachne and need no spinning lessons.
Calling upon my Kali aspect I mixed up some pyrethrum spray that urges spiders to move on – at least two continents away! I swept, I stacked, I sprayed. Spiders packed their bags hastily and left, an exodus akin to the Hebrews fleeing Egypt. Today I will go down again and clean the windows so all is prepared for Spring planting.I know that Persephone is making her way up from the underworld because my Almond is blossoming; she is always the first orchard tree to express her joy at the returning of Spring. All around I can feel the garden waking up; we have ben visited by the quail for the first time after their winter holidays. It is fascinating to notice the turning of the wheel; i have so much gratitude for being able to live close to the natural world and to feel communion with her. So much mystery abounds and like a small child who has secretly peaked at her Christmas presents prior to the day, I am allowed to understand the mystery and experience the magnificence. The life of a gardener is glorious and gifted.
And the greatest mystery of all is that of life and death. I have learned to honour this cycle even though I know that the beautiful Magnolia flowers that have bought me such joy these last few months are now in their death throes as the way is made clear for an abundance of foliage. I will mourn their loss even as I yearn for the emergence of fruit blossom, gardenias and rambling rose blooms. With every ending there is always a new beginning.
So here we are at that time again, arbitrarily designated the ‘New Year’. For me it’s not; hence the use of the word ‘arbitrarily’. For me the year is waning, every day the sun is just that tiny bit less available. It is decidedly the holidays though and I am in full holiday mode. This morning I lay in bed reading a novel whilst outside a gentle breeze caused a golden rain of Schizolobium flowers to fall past my window and carpet the grass below. A jet flew overhead preparing its approach and landing with another batch of visitors to our small town. One more reason to stay ensconced at home – it does get oh so busy at this time of year. Traffic crawls through town from one end to the other as visitors look for parking or just to find their way around. Locals stay out of the supermarket between 10am and 5pm unless they’re desperate. I stay here, in my sanctuary, visited only by the Tui that comes to drink nectar from the Strelitzia nicholae flowers outside my window, a cool breeze and the smell of honey it carries from the hives in the paddock.
As I lie here I feel a deep stillness within; I have a list of things to do, usual at this time of year but I feel no urge to action. It is enough to watch and listen, to breathe in the perfume and to give thanks for all the beauty and abundance that embraces and nourishes me. A thought flicks through my mind from time to time – someone to call, something to attend to. I let it all go. I learned a valuable lesson this last year – that all my feverish ‘doing’ over many years had rewarded me with a burned out body and confused mind. Now that I understand, I see everywhere the obsessive need to ‘do’. The driving energetic of our society is the masculine agentic ‘make it happen’ kind. I’m often asked what I’m doing at home, don’t I get bored? My days are filled with the practice of being, the learning to embody the feminine, a much slower more languorous form of energy. One more suited to our desires and dreams, one that encourages us to indulge in the pleasures that fill our lives with joy, connectedness and ecstasy even. I think from time to time what it would be like if I gave up my meditation and gardening and dancing and just being here when others needed me for the status quo. Every time I go to the city to visit I know it’s not for me, all that busyness. I long to come home to the peace and quiet, the warmth and comfort of my Hortus conclusus where pleasure and indulgence are the norm, where loving connection nourishes and fulfils all who spend time here.
As I look out into the garden the yellow of the Gleditsias and the lavender-blue of the mini agapanthus at their feet create an easy, fresh feeling that generates a heartfelt Ahhh. Life is so very good and I am so very grateful.
The ocean roar of wind crashes through the canopy of the eucalypts surrounding the garden with as much power and fury as a west coast beach in a storm. Down below all is calm and bathed in warm sunlight, the merest waving of leaves a pale reflection of what occurs above. Spring continues her unfolding – one step forward, two steps back, emerging then finding things not entirely to her liking she retreats again. It’s as though Persephone isn’t fully prepared to give up her dark lover.
For me too, I’m happy to lay in bed on cold and rainy days, reading a book and contemplating; only to find the next day I’m sun-seduced into a full days garden activity – planting, seed sowing, dreaming up my next project. The creatures also respond to the call of the sun; the garden is full of birds again today, bees are out gathering pollen with serious intent. Fortunately the blossoms seem to have timed their arrival to avoid the stormy period so an abundant harvest is still possible. Although, until Spring has fully unfolded and all her petals have dropped there are no guarantees – she is youthful fickleness – a lesson in both the discomfort and pleasure of transformation. As I embrace the lesson I feel a child-like curiosity and anticipation arise and a quiet acceptance that it is all out of my hands.