Where the council took out an ailing cherry tree in the next street, they left a void. One neighbour offered a hazel, and another cuttings of hydrangea. With a little tlc they are thriving, but the annual flowers planted between them have not enjoyed the dry summer. Other neighbours have offered their outdoor tap for watering, saving yours truly a few yards carrying watering cans. Someone else has provided daffodils which are now safely underground.
I was tackling some of the weeds which have sprung up between the annuals from seeds that had lain dormant for years; fat hen, various docks, sow thistle, dandelions and their friends and relations. Mrs H stopped by: ‘I might have known it was you. Thank you for doing this.’ And just when I could get no more weeds into the bucket, a professional gardener offered to empty it into his van and ‘save you carrying it around.’
All very encouraging! I’d best keep up the good work and let a few people do their good turn for the day while I’m at it! I thought I had put the bed to bed until Spring, with what I trust will be a host of golden daffodils to brighten up the corner, but no: there’s a shimmer of weed seedlings to be dealt with. Dirt beneath my nails seems perfectly natural for a son of Adam.
The leaves are not all down, despite the winds’ best efforts, so I can still share an autumnal story. LAudato si!
It was a little damp for sweeping leaves, but the apricot was shedding its gold over the public footpath and we didn’t want passers-by slithering at the corner, so out came the broom.
Perhaps it was the dampness that brought it out: a distinct scent of apricot rising from the leaves! I never noticed that before. Let’s hope it’s a promise of harvests to come.
A few days later, as I went to lock up for the night, I noticed the remaining leaves glowing and dancing in the lamplight. (I wish I could say moonlight, but she was obscured by low cloud.)
A silent disco; people pay good money for such entertainment!
I am always grateful when my sense of smell surprises me in this way. I lived largely without it for years. Laudato Si! for the apricot tree, for the leaves – and yes, for the lamplight – on this occasion. It is not necessary and pollutes the night sky, but just this once, Laudato Si! And Laudato si! for the surgery that, as an unexpected side effect, allowed me to smell again.
(A version of this post has appeared on the Will Turnstone blog)
Kent is famous for hops, and this weekend sees the hop festival in nearby Faversham. We have a bine growing over the willow arch at the Glebe garden of L’Arche Kent in Canterbury. L’Arche is a community of people with and without learning disabilities. I enjoy the hops in their natural glory as well. With some care and attention they should be producing really useful amounts in years to come.
And maybe that’s true of all of us too!
Meanwhile, back in February, here are the architects constructing the archway which now frames the gate and welcomes you into the garden.
Well done! The brewery owes you one.
I think most gardeners would line up with the one in Christ’s parable of the barren fig tree:
A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
Luke 13: 6-9
Four years ago that I rescued this bench from being demolished by a willow tree falling across it.
Now, the bench would be sittable-on, were it not for the weeds, and the willow is doing its job as part of an informal hedge against the field behind and above it. A change of crop in the field beyond, and fewer rainstorms, may both have contributed to its not being further undermined, but those vertical shoots are still vertical and almost thick enough to become fence posts if needed.
A good spot to curl up with a book, especially if you bring a scythe along with you!
And a job well done, if I say so myself.
But what happened to the fig tree, I wonder? I can’t help feeling that a few vigorous shoots would spring up from the base – as happened when I had to take out a fig some years back – and it would be inspired to fruit again. Maybe I could use some summer pruning before I enter my autumnal years?
Please excuse my interrupting Austin’s flow of thought with this appreciation of some of the joys of summer. A version of this post has appeared in the Will Turnstone blog.
As I walked along Canterbury’s Saint Peter’s Street on Saturday I saw a sure sign of Summer. Not the gaggles of French and Dutch teenagers squeezing into the pound shops, nor the obedient American and Japanese tourists following their guides’ uplifted, unopened, umbrellas.
No, It was the cherry lady from Faversham, but selling gooseberries this time. She promised ‘cherries next week’.
I bought gooseberries.
That afternoon as I was cycling home from visiting friends, I sought out the elder flowers needed to make the best gooseberry fool and gooseberry jam. Along the Crab and Winkle cycle path they were as unpolluted as anywhere.
Mrs T made the fool, and froze some puree to make more when summer is mere memory. The fool all went. We took some to the L’Arche gardening club on Sunday, where our Polish friends could not get enough of it, nor could I. Maybe the spare puree won’t make it till Christmas!
And I made the jam. A few Happy Christmasses there!
But yesterday there were cherries in town.
Summertime can begin! Laudato Si!
We have just received the latest newsletter from our friends at L’Arche Kent which they have asked us to share. Just click on the link below!
As you can see from this shot a few weeks ago, the Glebe garden is right in the city, thought now that the trees have greened up it is a good deal more private than in winter time. It looks as though Rupert and Mark are busy cutting the osiers (willow stems) for craft work. Where is everyone else?
2018 Spring Newsletter
The following extract is taken from the Newsletter of the Canterbury Society of Friends, describing events last year:
I had been asked to give a talk in the sermon spot – and from the pulpit, on the subject of L’Arche and Rogation Sunday. Carol was also absent from Friends’ worship in order to attend the service and the subsequent beating of the bounds procession to the Glebe. Whilst I was figuring out how to climb the pulpit, David walked in and to the organ. One of the clergy remarked to me ‘oh good, it’s David, it’s exciting when he plays. It is also his birthday, upon which David started playing ‘Happy Birthday’ and we all sang along.
The procession after the service was a delight – in warm sunshine and with nearly all the congregation coming down to beat the bounds and for the seed to be blessed in the Glebe.
It struck me that a lovely example of the interaction between our places of worship had occurred and community spirit was experienced at its best.
Editor’s note: I really enjoyed the tea and cake provided by the lovely L’ Arche community, their families and volunteers in their tranquil community garden after the service and on my birthday in glorious sunshine.
Blog editor’s note: there were Catholics as well as Anglicans and Quakers present at this celebration! (I’m tempted to say, spot the difference.)
Saint Patrick, whose feast falls today, left a few holy wells around Ireland, and so would surely approve of this article from USPG’s Praying with the World Church. Surely every well is a Holy Well? R.S. Thomas, sometime vicar of Aberdaron, would say so.
Myanmar: Article by San Lin, a development officer with the
Church of the Province of Myanmar.
For many years, the people of Wa Me Klar village, high in the
mountains, had to climb for three hours to reach the nearest
stream that provided clean drinking water. Often this was a job
for women and children, who would struggle to carry the heavy
buckets. But now the villagers’ lives have been transformed
because water pipes have been installed by the Church of
Myanmar. No-one has to climb and fetch water because water
comes to the village.
‘Now we can take a bath in our houses,’ a 60-year old
woman tells me. The village chief says: ‘I can grow vegetables
and raise goats inside my compound. Thank you very much!’
For decades, this village, in Hpa’an Diocese, was targeted by
the military. In the mid-70s, most of the houses were burned
and the people fled. But since peace negotiations in 2005, the
people have been returning home.
There are 30 households, with around 100 residents. Before
the water programme there were many cases of diarrhoea and
other illnesses. But now the people understand about sanitation.
When the church arrived in the village, they showed the
people how to lay pipes and build cisterns, and they worked
hard together to achieve their goal.
Water Jug from Aberdaron Anglican Church (Church in Wales)
Just before it got dark I went out with the secateurs to take a few cuttings from our periwinkle. It is excellent ground cover, smothering weeds around the roses but allowing the daffodils to burst through. Even in winter there are a few flowers around (the picture was taken in spring though).
Down at the L’Arche Glebe garden there is a patch of shady ground under a hedge where these cuttings can find a home. While I was gathering them I remembered Mabel, who gave me some from her garden across town. I didn’t hear of her death till after the burial. Her vicar said someone described her as ‘the soul of goodness’. I totally agree. She was an inspiring person to be working for, and deserves recognition at Canterbury Christ Church University, for which she did so much in its earliest years.
Even though none of the present L’Arche Community knew her, she did know about the community in its earliest days and thoroughly approved. Even Mabel, however, could not stretch herself any further to play any part – except to pray. She prayed, she encouraged, she shared her knowledge and skills freely. The soul of goodness indeed.
We enjoy her periwinkles, and tradescantia, and various other perennials, and I treasure her memory.
The joys of late winter: some lover of nature, humanity, God or all three has set a clump of snowdrops between the fast Eurostar line to France and the old mainline from Ashford to Folkestone. Just a glimpse as we speed by, most will not notice, I too often miss them – but there they are, and beautiful they are, even from a distance. A promise that will be kept.
These others, with their rubbish, were at Aylesham station, not far away. No chance of a meaningful photo of the ones beside the Eurostar line.
And soon, in Wales, the daffodils will be out along the roads. Some say the lily of the field in Matthew 6:25ff was a daffodil. I’m sure Saint David would approve of that exegesis!
Happy feast day tomorrow!
A version of this post has appeared on the Will Turnstone blog.