In honour of a Father
I remember the first time I reached down to touch the soil in this new land,
my new country.
The soil felt heavy, saturated, compacted and crippled with years of neglect.
But on that day I touched it, connected, and dedicated myself to its care.
Years of toil lay ahead, digging drainage so the land could breathe, getting the
children chasing around after horsetails, and noticing how ‘she’ responded.
I fed her, nurtured her and my dedication became love.
The allotment became our place of worship, where the family would gather
to join her as she grew and changed, as they grew and changed,
and other times she and I worked quietly in an honourable meditation,
my hands and my will, gently coaxing her back to health.
For many years we worked together, my allotment and me.
I have attended to her needs and she has provided willingly for my family and me;
always offering just a little more to give away in jam pots and pickle jars
full of summer sunshine.
Our robin observed us as we worked. She knew we would provide for her too,
in return she sang. Such a treasured sound that stilled the world for a moment.
This year, again, we produced a great abundance of asparagus that
leapt into life in May, followed by a wealth of beans, brassicas and neeps.
Leeks, potatoes, onion, shallots, interspersed with carrots and spinach,
currants and raspberries all lined up with a magnificent row, or two,
of delicious sweet peas. Oh what a harvest!
She and I made a commitment to one another, and that has lasted a lifetime.
Now I watch as my children grapple with their own journey to the land,
I watch them making change as ideas and methods alter over time.
I watch as they teach their children.
Sometimes they ask questions, sometimes they join me and I tell them with pride
that this little patch of land, my allotment, is ready to reveal her secrets if we allow
ourselves to join her in celebration.
From The Greening of Man