Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Gardening on the edge of space

Soft cloud mittens are pulled over flat English skies, and the damp pavements rub their shoulders against a loose conspiracy of winter shrubs. Tight buds on bare branches wait, the compost heap sinks back into it's warm heart, where a cloud of steam brings rare colour to cold faces gathered round music and song. In the lee of a square faced building, the gardeners are at work, digging on the dark side of a wind tunnel.

Cold, nasty, it will be a few hours before the sun makes it round to this side of the building, and this is the first time this winter that my wool socks have failed to keep my feet warm. We are forking through the soil, removing the pale straw-like roots of Bindweed, it's capillary growth wriggling out of site, we have no choice but to follow them. Down past the clay pipes and the broken pieces of Ming Dynasty china, past the bleached bones of long forgotten gardeners.

Time traveling back to a world of giant ferns, lumbering dinosaurs and volcanoes spewing ash clouds and molten magma. A cartwheel of stars pierces this moment on a dull February day, as the gathering gloom releases rain, cold rain. The shuffle on the i pod flips to the next track as the sun spills through a crack on the tip of the weather vanes arrow, shining through a curtain of water that eventually moves South.

The 'Fleet Foxes' herald the elements with a chorus of harmonies, summoned up through the soil and leaves to drift away like my breath on the cold air. Resting one muddy boot on the edge of a spade, I watch it dissipate, leaving me here to garden on the edge of space.

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