Discover more from These are the things my garden told me
The grip of winter lingers, hard to shake off like a knot deep between my shoulder blades. A cold discomfort in my heartspace. Breathe into it, the therapist used to tell me when I sought her help to relieve the recurring unease, her warm, magic hands melting tension away. I exhale white wintry clouds of seasonal dissatisfaction, impatient for spring. Until at last, despite the ongoing silvery traces of frost on lengthening mornings, everything in the garden tells me that the season-in-waiting has changed. My own restless impatience a marker of the sap rising within.
Vivid new green emerges everywhere from the beneath the brown death of yesteryear. The birds sing, dart, tug at garden debris that feeds a frenzy of nest-building. The chickens suddenly discard their winter huddling places and begin to rake the ground over, too small to cause real destruction but making their energetic presence felt as they garden with a comforting chorus of clucks in my wake. Just as suddenly, they begin to lay, gleaming clutches of eggs appearing in secret corners every day. The children learn the real meaning of Easter egg hunts.
The weekend arrives and with it the first sunshine holding true warmth, just in time for the spring equinox. I love this moment in the year, and all it indicates: this one brief instant at which all hangs in balance, before hurtling forward into the growing daylight of the season to come. Every other day a swing one way or the other, but overall a necessary part of the year’s equilibrium. It teaches me forgiveness as it offers a gentler perspective on my own swings and roundabouts in the tumult of the everyday. I sit outside, face turned to the sun, and feel warm rays begin to loosen what has been uneasily bound by the cold. The bright light changes the look and feel of everything, casts stark shadows. The garden is a different place now.
We met a place that welcomed us with a chorus of plants that spoke of home ground. During a year of complete upheaval the new garden’s familiarity was settling. It eased us in. The hard frosts of this past winter has seen many of those plants out. There is much blank canvas in the garden this spring. I find that I am ready to colour those spaces in. Ready to begin to reshape this place anew; prepared to plant a legacy. The garden has changed; it allows us to change the garden. We have both arrived at a tipping point.
I see the downgrading of the UK in the global civic freedoms index and I know I should be alarmed at the dangerous threshold it seems to indicate. But the truth is I struggle to feel it. Those of us who have had our civic rights stripped, and so much else besides by the legacy of British Empire are tired by long years of unheeded alarm at what always lay behind a nobly invented facade.
This is the return of the repressed. As other places in the world throw off the shackles of Imperial bondage and begin to haltingly free themselves, all that has been projected into the other, blacker, spaces begins to make its explicit way home. It meets all that has been enacted on home turf, and then suppressed; together they rise with the sap of memory that cannot be subdued. I attend a Mothering Sunday church service and we remember the young children who were sent from their homes – from their mothers – to serve this country’s masters, allowed this one day to return home. I think of the children who were taken from their homes, from their mother countries, to serve this country’s massas: they were allowed no homecoming. I remember them. If only we could remember them all.
We children of Empire have always been subjects. Subjugated. It has simply been buried beneath a mulch of untruth. Much is buried in the earth of our bodies. We are at a tipping point; we enter a season of returning light of memory. It casts stark shadows. And it offers opportunity, as all new seasons do. Will the painfully suppressed histories of our past be polluting landfill, dank and foul, rotting our souls to the core? Or will it become the seed that germinates, splits our false skins, grows in the dawning light of spring into a legacy anew?
The seed planted when I started this newsletter has grown into the book that will become my legacy. I’m simultaneously terrified of releasing it into the world, knowing that it will go on to lead its own life, impacting on but separate from mine, but so proud of what I’ve created. It arrives on August 3rd, and can be preordered in various places, including by contacting your favourite independent bookstore. But here I have linked Waterstones, who will also ship internationally. Thank you so much for reading my words.