Friday, 9 December 2011

Miss September

I am Miss September in our allotment site's 2012 calendar. I am very proud of my nasturtiums and muddy knees. Ha.

The allotment has been amazing this year. I worked very bloody hard and had a glut of vegetables and fruit. My shed had a grateful renovation. As did my pond. In fact, I've been digging right up until last Saturday when the weather took a turn for the windy and wet. I've still been out anyway, and planted three trees into knee deep holes filled with horse muck. I was soaked and wet, but escaped the worst of the weather in the tea hut where Eric and me listened to classical music, drank tea and bemoaned the world. I then fastened my trees to stakes with strips of bicycle inner tube, and watched them sway in these crazy winds hoping they will survive this weather. Sunset apple. Victoria Plum. Conference Pear.

I've still got some winter veg to harvest, given the chance. Sprouts grown especially for my dad, leeks, beets and swedes. Still have a sack and a half of potatoes, onions, and pumpkins all stored in the kitchen. My horse muck is shovelled, wheel-barrowed and rotting nicely in a huge stinking pile at the back of my lot. I've dug in a lot of manure already, I've dug over most of the ground ready for winter, composted dead plants and cut back my currant bushes.

To be honest, the allotment is my escape, my therapy, my exercise, my peace and contentment, my joy. There is nowhere else I can run like a seven year old from one end of the site to the other with a carrier bag held up high in the air behind me like a balloon, or dance along the edge of my railway sleeper raised bed without a care whether anyone is watching me. It's the place where I hide, where I feel I belong and where I experience nothing but kindness. It doesn't matter if I fail, I just try again. It doesn't matter if I know nothing, nobody laughs or puts me down, we are all always learning.

I've been reading back through my allotment diary, through all the hard digging and ridiculous lists of vegetables I've planted and harvested. Just to prove I am hooked, here are three little snippets from earlier in the year:

'It feels more at home than being at home. At the lot, it's like I can breathe, and I hear the wood pigeons and the wind rustling the leaves, and whether it's basking heat or dull or windy or drizzling with rain, it always feel good to be out...'

'I love the pace, the focus, just me immersed in whatever I'm doing - sometimes I can't fix what's in my head, but most of the time the lot fixes everything and I feel bliss, wonder, awe, peace, I feel lucky to have these moments.'

'I harvested and dug and had a cup of tea, and dreamed a little while rain lashed onto the hut roof, just the sound of it, wow, with Eric's radio on classical and the kettle whistling. I needed it today, all this. I needed it so badly and I didn't realise how much. When I came home, I ran a bath and noticed in the mirror how I was smiling all over my face and how healthy I looked. It feels me with such an amazing sense of well-being,'

To be honest, it is such hard work, I have moments where all I want is to give up, but I push through because I can't imagine life without it.

I'm no good at relationships, I find intimacy hard and fall to pieces when someone says they no longer want me around. But I can take hardwood cuttings from a blackcurrant bush. And I manage my work stress badly, especially when I get no support. But I can dig two spits deep with a spade and turn the soil over until it crumbles. And I'm flawed in so many ways that it sometimes feels unbearable, but, somehow down there, noticing a red admiral butterfly at the end of November, or a ten spotted black ladybird on the inside of my shed door, or a robin eating the seeds from the sunflower heads I left on the ground rotting for him, everything clears. And it feels as if I can do whatever it is I need to do.

So when I saw my photo in our 2012 calendar, I remembered all of this, and wanted to write about it because in that moment, in this photograph, I was so wonderfully happy. And I wish that everyone could have something similar that makes them shiver and buzz and smile right down to their bones. This is life. No matter how tough it gets, I can cope if I can still have my time at the allotment.


Anonymous said...

happiness is always in the momment, and when you can still find it, even for just a momment, you are doing alright. and never forget how much those who love you, also love your flaws, because we know, really know, that you accept our flaws too.

sonia said...

you've summed up how I feel. Digging and dancing and swimming do it for me. what a lovely picture. flaws are what make us human.

Anonymous said...

What a heartwarming post!
--from Canada where the ground has been rock solid frozen for weeks

Anonymous said...

Calendar, eh? I need a calendar for our kitchen. Where does one go about ordering a copy?

- Jen and Doug

annie clarkson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

My first comment seems to have vanished - but just wanted to say Happy Christmas lovely Annie (make 2012 be about remembering you're lovely. And about writing too. Of course)
m xx