It’s 80 degrees and sunny in Malibu. There are still summer crops in the garden: tomatoes, bell peppers, chile peppers, red noodle beans, blue jade corn, lemon cucumbers, green cucumbers, patty pans, emerald zucchini, butternut and delicata squash, sweet amber watermelons, and honeydew melons.
The greens are doing well, including every colour of chard, butter lettuces and speckled heirloom lettuces grown from Amish seeds. The greens are doing well considering, but they’re looking forward to cooler days.
The gourds are ripening beautifully, looking forward to their future lives as bowls, water bottles, vases, boxes and musical instruments!
Despite the unseasonal warm weather, the winter seeds are sprouting, their first pairs of leaves above the surface as their roots hungrily scour the earth for moisture, support and nutrition. I’ve seeded Siberian kale, kohl rabi, Romanesco cauliflowers, Pixie cabbages, turnips, carrots, beets, a selection of onions (including Alissa Craig and Walla Walla), and some beneficial and cutting flowers.
This garden grows with sunshine, soil, spirit, and love. The love is transmitted by the plants themselves, a veritable Green Nation of beautiful spirits, all connected by tendrils and leaves. The love is shared too by the myriad critters above, inside, around and below the surface, from the rabbits to the spiders, and from the snakes to the hummingbirds.
But the most easily tangible love in this beautiful garden is the extraordinary friendship that I share with Sue, who is the guardian of this little Eden. Our love is lovely, and it’s as obvious as a flower.
As garden-lovers, Sue and I see that a flower is above the soil, but that it’s also below it. The top of any plant is just half of the story, with an equally beautiful reflection just below the earth.
The roots that reach into this garden’s soil seek nutrients, captured and prepared by microbes and earthworms. My own roots reach even more deeply, beyond this Western land, back to the country of my birth; to England. It’s the source of my own nutrition in so many ways, and the country where I sowed my first edible crops.
So this current garden can be traced back to a small patch of Champagne rhubarb that I planted in London in the 1970′s. I can’t have been more than 5 years old, but my mum noticed I spent most of my time digging in the soil, and although I had declared I wanted to be an archeologist, my parents thought I might enjoy planting a patch in the garden at the back of our house and calling it my own.
I did. It was a source of great wonder and magic to me as I watched the rhubarb grow, and grow, and grow…. Rhubarb is superbly impressive in size, especially when you are 5. And soon, my little garden was taller than me.
I forget what else I planted there, except for violets and forget-me-nots. The velvety petals of the violets and the down on their leaves still enchants me, but the clear blue of forget-me-nots secures these tiny flowers as one of my favourite blooms to this day. Tiny and unassuming, but intense and exquisite in such a humble, quiet way.
So gentle readers, I’m exploring these roots again. For although I love Sue, and although I love the garden in Malibu, with its beauty and deliciousness and wildness and community, it’s time for me to go to England.
I miss its ancient Albion spirit, its lush greenness, its cold dampness and its smoky skies. I miss the people whom I love in the British Isles, and I miss the spiders and swallows and robins with their red breasts. I miss the foxes even though I’ll miss the howl of the Malibu coyotes, and I miss the crunch of autumn leaves despite the palm trees swaying in gentle breezes here by the beach. I miss the clear winter sun on a good day as it streams over the misty winter grass, and I miss the white frost as it crisps the grass underfoot.
It’s known as hiraeth in Welsh, and saudade in Portugese, and there’s only one known cure for it…
And so, my November blog will come to you via the UK, where I shall be eating my way through many fine organic food adventures and reporting back, as always, as always…
All photos courtesy of Cynthia Carlson, October 2012
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