Imaginary gardening it is again. It’s been such a strange summer. All raining and the flowers have come out far too soon; only to be clogged down and blighted with odd dry patches, it looks like. Then they shed all their petals under the onslaught of this rain. Between that and the apparent (so it says on breakfast news, ever that medium of tetchy and apocalyptic information to have with your toast and cereal) invasion of Spanish slugs eating everything in sight…its astonishing I still have flowers of any kind in the garden.
I do though. I have 2 unidentified Alpine or heathery type plants I bought on reduced from the small florist at the bottom of the hill – one deep pinkish, one white in flower, with small, tiny, perfectly shiny leaves. This hugs close to the ground, and spreads itself out very very slowly. I have a small pot of lavender that was decanted into the earth near the living room window. This so that when I am walking rather dazedly up and down the living room while Fluffhead (known elsewhere, especially to Gitarist und Dichter, as Colin Baker, but this another story) plays with his alligator truck, his wheeled block trays and his combine harvester. We are in a patch of wheeled vehicle development at the moment. They must run over everything; and stickers must be stuck on the wheel centres, so he can watch them turn, endlessly.
Fluffhead has become a real tyrant with the TV and radio, so we endure a more or less constant diet of CeeBeebies or Radio 4 panel shows (which can get really annoying after a while – there’s only so much Jack Dee you can listen to…I’m not sure why radio is caught up in the 50s/60s still, in some ways, its odd). So whilst this goes on, at a hopefully restrained volume, I pace up and down. Trying to hold in all my stomach muscles to support my back, and stop it from pain. I look out of the front window at the street and the trees all growing higgledy piggledy, with branches and leaves sprouting forth from the bottom of them instead of the tops. And then out of the back window to the back garden, with the meadow (such was the state of the garden till Thursday last) now shorn. Apart from those flowers planted near the living room window, there is nothing. It’s barren.
I planted a great many seeds at the beginning of Easter; but they didn’t seem to take. This was before the rain, when we seemed to be having that drought…maybe they dried up; more than they were, I mean. (I imagine dead sultanas nestled in the Earth.) I am still woefully ignorant of gardening. Lots of borage came up repeatedly…other than that…nothing. I weeded the borage, since I have discovered giving any quarter to it is like asking houseguests to move in forever and ever rent free to eat you out of house and home. I grew a mass of tangly nasturtiums inside the lean to conservatory, but they didn’t like being replanted outside – they had twined themselves around each other and various other pots on the large shelf to the point where they didn’t really want to leave this arrangement. I had great trouble repotting them outside. They fell over, they lurched about, they insisted on dragging their flowers to the bottom, grazing the ground over the edge of the large pots at the front of the house I was trying to rehome them in, to greet the sun each morning and smile at me when I was back from my walks.
I even managed to wreck some geraniums. I bought 8 enormously vibrantly pink ones from that small florist – in very good health, and planted 7 of them in those pots outside the front door, with some ivy round their edges, for love of that twining and soft green. (The other sits proud and happy on the kitchen windowsill, still very vivid.) Two days of violent rain and they were petal-less. So I beheaded them, and now the pots are a mass of lighter and darker green, but no flowers.
This is annoying, and a bit sad, coupled as it is, with the fact that apart from the nasturtiums, I have only managed to coax up from seed some aubrietia (no flowers on this their first year of life – hopefully next year), and some lavender. The lavender is interesting. It has come up so small and gentle, not thick and strong and woody as you so often see it…But both these things (and the remains of the nasturtiums, which I sensibly left indoors, twisted up around everything as they are – and flowering madly too, with blood red, damson plum red and lemon curd yellow heads), are doing well…indoors and pest free. We’ll see.
All this information in lieu of …what? Life information? My health scare is half over. My cancer tests came back negative. It took me about 3 days to process this information, as I had got into such a state of high peaked worry I was wound as tight (but not as pretty) as a nasturtium to a sunflower. But I still have some worrying symptoms and the mad scientists still have little idea what is bugging my guts. So more tests ensue. Sighs. I wait to hear what they are and how much they will scare and annoy me. I had two days of feeling wondrously clear of worry, it gradually fell away from me, or melted, dried like grass after rain…though not without leaving a rot, as this violent rain this summer has done. I don’t feel quite the same. We’ll see, we’ll see.
So in the imaginary garden of BlackberryJuniper, which I admit has been sadly neglected of late – as have the Lands in general, as I have been so focussed on this other particular part of my existence…there is a small and disjointed story waiting to be told. I don’t think it goes anywhere, and I don’t think it has a message or moral of any kind. It sounds sad, and rather gothy; but perhaps it isn’t. I think it just is, and just is now, and you shall have it, for that reason alone.
Once upon a timeless place, there was a garden. A large walled garden, full of sunlight, except toward the far end, where it was a little bit shadier sometimes, from the tree branches hanging low.
Strewn over what was the altar, over the flat stones, was an image of desolation and beauty in endings…they shone in the noonday sun and then their essence wandered away, their lives cut off, cut short, their stems bruised and sheared. Their colours faded, their petals curled – golden yellow to beige to tan to brown.
But now they are graves and soon they will be earth, soon they will be chrysalises, soon they will be parents, suckling round the edges of small shoots, greenly waiting in the earth; soon they will be small shoots, earnest and free of all taint, poking upward. They grow and sprout, a stem, a leaf, a bough in the scale of flowerkind.
They do this, the sun moves over them, the moon shines from so high above, and it seems to take an age to get four inches tall; snails wave their antenna slowly as the earth waits and the tiny ladybirds sit on top of the leaves. Unfurl, the palm of a hand, softly opening. And finally, the bud, twisted and secretive; the last to allude. It hides unripe and fresh. Its colour takes it by surprise and then it is here, before it can control itself it knows the time to seize the worlds is now, and the maiden slowly comes to her feet and stretches wide her arms.
She mirrors the trees around her, she salutes the sun; she opens, she receives. She is the brilliant pinky gold of a summer’s morning. She is innocence with no experience. She is kissed with one dewdrop, as if we made her up just to be pretty, just to tell a tale. No one, no one sees this, she is entirely alone but for the insects. The birds cannot smell her, and won’t until noonday sun.
But here comes the taller maiden, who sees her own echo in the grass at her feet and takes the scissors. She strokes the flower, this one perfect sweetness of the whole world and she loves it to her centre, she feels the flower inside herself, and she kisses it softly. She tastes it. She takes its stem between the blades as she kisses it. It knows. It feels the coldness of the blades, it knows this one salute, this one morning – the way the light falls through the trees, she knows it. Knows it is the last. Her petals widen. She feels the love of the girl. They are innocence together, in the way different species can occasionally feel each other. She knows no harm is meant, but that in the cause of love, harm will come. In her innocence, in her mendedness, she knows to break is her way, is her destiny. She flowers, she falls. Inside her budded core, she breathes deep one last time of the sun, of the dew, of the morning and she waits, all upthrust and held out and beautiful in her life in her wondrous morning. She waits. She gives of herself. She gives herself. The blades, they touch her sides, they hold.
And so do her friends, further away, all around, all around her, so many colours – the palest of blues, the morning sun’s sister. The pink of fervent love, the green wildness of a glade somewhere where the unicorn does indeed (oh yes why not) wander. All her friends fall, with their serrated leaves, their many sided petals. And all give of themselves, now this morning. They feel themselves, fractured, being bled; their sad stalks facing the sun. The sun will cauterise. The stem will feel the fall, it will bleed out. Next year, she will rise again, as her mother’s daughter.
The heads they move away, carried in her white apron, in her basket, in whatever you want. They move, they wonder, as they breathe the last, at this sensation of movement – of going past. It is all so fast and so blurry. They reach the altar stones, they are strewn. The maiden sits before them on the grass. She cries. She cries for what she has done, and she cries for what she thinks she has lost.
(and one day a thousand years ago, my cat Blossom died in a morning, very early, and I crushed that perfect rose I saw in the street as beauty had to be sacrificed as I had Blossom no more)
The maiden cries all the full morning. She leaves. By nightfall on the third day, the flowers are dead and gone, so far gone they have no memory of ever being there. Only the altar knows, and has felt a thousand beheaded flowers and more. They looked lopsided at the world one last time, from funny angles, some upside down, as they died a violent but instructive death. They watched and they saw. They saw her innocence being preserved by their own, they did not mind. They screamed and felt the pain, but they didn’t mind. It was a long time ago in the small measure that is theirs, that is everyone’s. They closed their eyes and left their eyes behind.
Golden yellow becomes beige becomes tan. The maiden comes back. He is with her. The flowers no longer know. Respectfully, she takes the dried petals and strews them over his head. She kisses him. It means something.
Now it is over. The cycle continues. Green presses up from below, the mother’s daughters are here again. Flowers.
And it is possible that the maiden and her man and whatever flowers she birthed lived happily ever after, here on the Lands, at least; where the wild horses run free on the beach with sun in their tails. It is possible. The flowers will always bloom and come back.
And this happens Here too. Maybe all will be well. For a while.