After such a long, hot time of it this summer, clouds and rain have finally returned, softening the ground on my allotment. I hadn’t sown anything new in quite some time, all notions of successional peas, radishes and salads having evaporated with the moisture in the soil.
Today I went down to harvest some potatoes. I am still trying to work out the best way to store them but I thought it best to get some more of them out of the ground on the occasion of a sunny Saturday. I also picked courgettes, ever present at this time of year, French beans, raspberries and some flowers.
And then I began digging, turning over the soft soil at the front of my plot to create four somewhat wonky rows with my rake head in which to actually sow something new. It felt like it must be spring, how strange! Into my rows went: ‘Sicily Giant’ radishes. ‘Bright and Spicy’ salad leaf mix, ‘Lobjoits Green’ lettuce (which I realised halfway through isn’t for sowing after July, according to the seed packet, but I decided to be a rebel) and finally some ‘Discovery’ rocket. Sowing these seeds gave me a sense of simple accomplishment and contentment that I greatly needed.
I’m not feeling very settled in myself right now and consequently, I guess, I’m not feeling very rooted in Bristol. I remember years ago feeling something perhaps a bit similar: a feeling that a bunch of balloons might easily lift me off my feet and take me elsewhere in the world. I am older now and so much more rooted here in many ways, but something isn’t feeling right and I’ve been trying to work out what it is, what needs addressing. I’ve now lived half my life in one country and the other half in another. Which land is more my land, which soil more my soil?
The answer is a sort of neither/both. But why it matters on my allotment is that I sometimes struggle to see the future there – because maybe I’m going away. And growing is about looking to the future; all gardeners love planning their gardens.
But I suppose it’s the nowness of gardening, the immediate present, the ability to be present, that is the most important part of it for me right now. Today’s potatoes, today’s flowers, today’s seeds in the soil, today’s sprinkling of the ground with water and care. Starting something again because I have the power to.
*of the blog and of sowing seeds