Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Whilst at home, eating food in season and working in the garden, hands in the earth, I recognise certain rhythms that I have lost track of. The natural rhytms that surrounds us, the natural order and cycle of things and how I amongst many, have chosen to change these over time.

Years go by and we celebrate the start of a New Year in many different ways, depending on our culture. We know a new year starts, because our calendar tells us but previous civilizations did not have the comfort of yearly produced works that hang on their kitchen wall, they looked for other signs.

The seasons can give us an indication as to what is happening. We all know what spring, summer, fall and winter feel like.....although the effects of global warming are blurring distinctive boundaries that existed in the past. Traditionally, plants are sewn at certain times, and yet, this year spring was delayed and although the packet said my courgettes should be planted in April and May, the effects of a delayed spring showed on plants that would shiver and not thrive until their time for development was right to enable them to grow. Our wishes as consumers to eat strawberries all year long mean that these conditions for optimal growth have to be stimulated and replicated and the natural order of things disturbed. Of course, my strawberry season will be different to the zone you live in, and we might be able to trade and prolong our season, but that means that the strawberries need to travel and use different global resources.

Hence my wish to eat seasonally and to have a succession of fruit and vegetables that my body needs to live in the place I live in. I can prolong my strawberry season by having and indoor and outdoor crop but for the outdoor crop I need the plants to be pollinated by insects which will be at the mercy of the weather patterns.

I have lost the ability to read weather patterns as my ancestors did. There are many songs and rhymes in childhood that talk about when plants are planted and that knowledge has also been long lost, and maybe is not appropriate in a changing global climate either, as there is definitely a change happening.

I am starting a garden diary which will track the seeds I plant and whether this is the ultimate time to do so, trial and error will show whether I get it right or whether things can be improved. This could also track changes on a global scale in my local environment. If I had paid attention locally that the swallows came 3 weeks later than last year, I might have recognised that my planting schedule for optimum production in tune with nature would be 3 weeks late. From spending time with my cats on a daily basis, I can predict the amount of rain that is coming and its timescale. If my cats do not leave the kitchen, all gardening plans should be put on hold as it is sure to be cold and rain heavily. If they stay around the house, around the boundaries, I know that it is likely to rain that day and planting would be good no watering needed as it is coming later. I can only speak for what I find in my own garden and climate but apparently they have not lost the ability to venture our or not as the case may be, depending on what is in their awareness.

Again, when the swallows, meet and leave, I will know that fall is being announced. The quality of light changes, the plants all react to the seasons and I am not certain what makes me so confident that I can overcome all of that. I too need a time of hope and growth, of warmth and fun, of preparation of hibernation and a time of rest and reflection to observe the rhytms in my life. There are periods in our life childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, parenthood, middle age, and so on that each have a flavour, each bring us wisdom of another kind and we cannot spend all our time in childhood and ignore that we too are working towards reaping the rewards of what we have sewn in the past.

Its a reflection worth doing, finding your place in the sun now, seeing what it is you are wanting to achieve and working towards a happy harvest. I wish you sunshine, a good foundation to enable you to grow roots and reach your potential.

As for me, I am going to go out and survey what the garden tells me, bottle my elderflower cordial, enjoy my glass of fresh mint tea and pick a salad for lunch.

What are you doing today, what is your rhytm, what is natural for you?

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