Loosening it

(An alternative version of my experience, of the Gaia Hut’s first outing.)

Loosening it

‘Sycamore’, ‘knapweed’, ‘meadow sweet’, ‘larch’,
‘ash’…
Noticing so many affected. Ash die-back. The Tree of Life. Dying back…..
‘hazel’, ‘common reed’, ‘rowan’, ’hello Heron!’
I recited their names, on my daily commute, bowing in apology for my polluting motion, as I passed.
‘alder’, ‘birch’, ‘hawthorn’,
‘hello Crows!’,
(‘what is that purple one shining so now?’)
‘beech’, ‘elder’, ‘horse chestnut’,
‘Himalayan balsam….hmmm’,
‘hawkbit’, ‘ragwort’ and so on,
I’d nod to them as I drove past, stopping, sometimes,
to breathe, to pick glorious seed heads for my little venue’s vase.
A single, gale-surviving, garden, sunflower nodded back at me when I entered the village, and was always turned to face me when I left.
I loved its sunny welcome and farewell.
(I’d lost my tallest sunflower in the wild winds of the week.
I’d tried to help it by tying it to a stake.
It’s head had snapped at that tie. When will I ever learn?
A lesson in there somewhere.)

More alders. Seeing alders everywhere here.
A local wise-woman taught me that Ardfern, translated, is Aird Fheàrna in Gaelic, land of the alder trees.
I thought of how they ‘bleed’ when I harvest the bark for my pigment.
And laughed at myself when I thought of my, grown-from-seed, seedlings at home, when they were everywhere here, to transplant, so close to our hill.
Whoo Hoo! Whoo Hoo!
The wood pigeons were always calling as I arrived to open up.
‘Whoo-Hoo!’ I felt inside, as I sipped my fresh, meadowsweet, tea.
We do not have many of those on the hill. Wood pigeons.
The neighbours, clean-lined, zen-garden, trickled water all day.
I did not always use the toilet in the house, twice I squatted behind the trailer, in a weedy corner, among the docks and red campion.
Unseen, under the ash trees.
Marking my spot, for the village dogs and cats.
My host, and dear freind’s, old setter was fading.
He lost the use of his back legs during our exhibition.
My freind coped amazingly.
I knew he was near the end, but could not share it,
with the family keeping such Hope alive.
So moving to spend Time with him
and bear witness to the family’s Love for their dear companion.
I caught myself dancing when the wind whirled.
The weather made me ‘dance’ around the Hut often.
Fixing shelter. Taking it down. Opening up and Closing up. Lighting the fire and letting it go out.
The gravel felt hard underfoot, but I’d think of the reflexology I was getting and smile.
I was often fascinated by a tree, I called the ‘starling tree’, against the sky and how, silhouetted, the birds became leaves, until they flew away.
Noisy leaves. So full of chatter.
We don’t see starlings on our hill either.
There was a stone.
My guardian stone.
In the edge of the flower border, who kept me company during this event.
It had two faces. One that smiled when the sun came out, another that looked grumpy in the rain.
It spoke to me of the tragedy and comedy of it all.
Of the hypocrisy.
I painted its two faces, as a hanging slate, slate with a hole in it, I had found in their garden, as gift for the family.
The children were delighted to meet him.
And to know that he lived in their garden.

Such beauty in this garden. Such Love.
Huge sunflowers, a stunning, single, artichoke, dahlias, Californian poppies, geraniums, buddleia, brassica flowers, sweet peas, tomatoes, leeks, wild greens, kale and more.
All thriving in this small, sheltered patch.
Chickens clucked under the Lime.
Cabbage white butterflies danced in the air, when the sun came out.
I really noticed though, the lack of other butterflies this year. At home and here too. More on the brassicas than the verbena or buddleia.
More gifts for their garden arrived during our event, transplanted ferns and more trees.
Huge paper birch, red cherry and mountain ash.
An over-buy from a neighbour of hers.
They did not want them to die when they went away again for a while.
They had no Time to plant them.
Such Abundance.
I collected some flowers from the bountiful garden, always asking permission, for my flower press.
Something to remember this Time by, this colour, when I use them, later, in winter, to make something new.
I joked that I was their garden gnome for the duration.
A friend joined me, barefoot, for a while.
I taught her how to twist the rushes, she showed me new ‘hearts’ in the gravel.
They reminded us both of a mutual, dear friend, who had passed.
She told us tales of Africa and gifted me a twisted, willow, heart, now part of the Gaia Hut.
I popped in to visit another friend, while I was in the village, and came home with laden with bags of ‘surplus’ collected seaweed, that I laid out in the rain, to wash the salt off, touching ocean, before laying it on my autumn-prepared patch to rot down over winter and feed the soil. The best kind of gift!
On the last day I was given a potted rose by one friend and a bottle of Cava by another.
I felt like a queen, or a graduate, as I bore these home.
Overwhelmed with Gratitude.

The purple one was ‘loosestrife’.
Amazing how in looking all these years I had never met this one before!
Always so much to learn.

No, it told me, you are not losing it.
You are loosening it.

Kat Robertson. August 2020.

Reflecting on the experience.