Wednesday, December 9, 2009


no, haven't joined a terrorist organization...just another day partaking in allotment culture...

as a note: this is an aspect of british culture that hasn't made it to america at all and might seem incomprehensible if judged through american lenses. allotments are public garden plots which are available to anyone for a very low cost per year. these days there are 2-year waiting lists for an allotment, due to the popularity of 'growing your own'/d.i.y. but this clouds over the core of british culture that is quite independent of trend. at heart, according to my pet theory, england's official religion has nothing to do with the church of england----rather, it's nature herself! gardening is the main ritual. others would include birding and walking the landscape.

allotments provide the worshiping ground. social events often take place there: parties, meetings. there are temples on these holy grounds, called sheds. every allotment has one to store tools and practical items, but also are places of sanctuary [from the elements, annoying family members, etc.] some are surprisingly outfitted with conveniences like stoves, kettles for tea and even fridges powered by gas. i've heard it rumored that some even have basements dug beneath them!

this past weekend, i attended an allotment party with about 8 others. we convened to help with the hostess's winter gardening activities: digging compost into the soil, constructing a poly-tunnel [so that plants can be protected from frost], digging of new beds, clearing last year's growth, etc. in return we, the guests, partook of fresh soup, bread, cake, song and bonhomie. i'm not much of a gardener and i was skeptical when summer invited me; digging in the cold wetness wasn't my idea of fun, but i'm proud to say that i had a great time. i grew beyond my childhood associations that gardening equals tedious yard work---a punishment.

so, today, when james suggested that we clear the unwanted overgrown phalanx of blackberry bramble from his new, unworked allotment, i didn't think very hard about it. off we went. at the outset the task seemed daunting. after a time, however, we found a rhythm and a method: surgical trimming with small handheld clippers in order to expose main stems which were then chopped with a hatchet. a healthy bonfire would then consume all brush waste...and then some. notice me, donning the farmer's look complete with overalls and 'wellies', kicking apart pieces of the old shed to fuel the flames with the wood...

...a satisfying day in flow...clearing the land for future growth...with some 12-year-old-boy destruction thrown in! [always important]

1 comment:

  1. That first photo is really trippy. James looks like a fire spirit of sorts. Save that one for the album cover.