(working as part of a ‘Japanese 72 season micro-climate’ artist collaborative initiative within Treesisters)
Japanese season called ‘Shoman’/ Lesser Ripening. 20th May until 5th June .
Micro climate ‘wheat ripens and is harvested’ 30th May – 5th June.
This season’s title sounds so warm and sunny, but it is still raining here in Scotland….
Back to our usual ‘summer’ in Argyll.
It has been difficult juggling my plans with this weather! Often frustrating. Bringing up those familiar feelings of potential failure and ‘not getting on’….it was not forecast for today.
It was however forecast for yesterday, but then it didn’t, and I did get a whole day’s building in!
I am getting everything ready to begin roofing my tiny gallery, which, when complete, will feel like a great ‘landmark’ point in this project.
I was getting quite excited to share this in this post, but then, again, today, it rains.
I really need a good dry day to complete this stage and the forecast does not look great for this coming week.
But, on the bright side, I suppose this does mean that I can catch up with this post!
I have been looking back over this years ‘journals’ so far and cannot believe how long ago the beginning of May feels. The acceleration of spring is truly remarkable when one chooses to observe it so closely.
It makes me reflect on how we humans are also so affected by this rush….
I think this is another reason why I struggle with our kind of summer rain and the midges.
I am driven indoors at a time when everything else is calling me out….but there is little joy in getting soaked and eaten alive!
It has always affected me negatively.
I have, previously, resorted to using a SAD lamp during summer here, but I lent it out in March.
(These were the kind days that in my ‘bad old days’ I would ‘write off’, go seek out a friend and get drunk or stoned….but I don’t do that anymore….so no escape there!)
I try and embrace it, tell myself that others, somewhere, are longing for this rain…but nothing seems to shift this mood.
I had thought about grabbing my camera and making a celebratory post about all the wonderful things I can see, even on days like this, but that felt like forcing it.
Today I just want to sit in this gloom and be sad….not embracing the rain, but embracing this mood.
I also find myself thinking about winter and how, somehow, we all slow down, draw in.
I think that is why I love that season so.
Time to explore inner worlds, to really work on my art, to reflect, to go deep….
The Earth really does need us all to slow down. She tells me that all the time these days.
So today my mood is low. Grey like the sky. Full of worries that I have taken on too much. That my plans might not work. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear that the ‘world’ is indeed dying and there is nothing we can do about it.
I try to rest and engage in some self care, but all feels aimless.
Still no wind. Just heavy and wet.
My tyre garden is greening up nicely.
I have been able to harvest some rhubarb, lots of mint, sorrel, some sage and chives already. The sweet peas are planted out, the runner beans and squashes are up and waiting. Lots of flowers still too small to plant out. Lettuce is almost ready to start cutting.
I do not have to water at all, but pop out daily to see how all my seedling are doing.
The slugs are doing a good job of demolishing most of the flowers I have sown though…but my favourite weeds, willow herb, creeping buttercup, sorrel and grasses are doing very well!
From further around the plot, the yarrow, cleavers, dandelion, plantain, young beech leaves and nettles have all been being utilised in salads and soups.
One day, this last week, I went out in the early evening and counted 8 bees all ‘sleeping’ on my chives. I do not know whether this was because they were just full, or the time of day, or perhaps the threat of rain in the air, but they were all very still, as if drugged, balancing on the blooms.
This did allow me to get a few good shots though.
Other garden activities have included building a new compost heap out of palettes with my son, giving our cherry trees, beech and hawthorn hedges a good prune and weeding out the worst of the weeds before they strangle other things.
I have felt really aware of the ‘destructive’ aspect of these activities this year.
My own need to control everything.
There is a certain satisfaction in pulling up bracken in unwanted places, cutting back the brambles, in ‘getting’ to the tiny docks before they have a chance to get that deep root, in creating a pleasing balance of weeds and plants, in having a tidy hedge that will bush out and grow thicker, but so much is about ‘taking away’, chopping, killing.
Such is the act of gardening. We all become Gods and Goddesses in our our plots.
Choosing what lives and what dies.
I have let lots of the lawn grass grow high this year though and loving all the clovers, plantain and daisies that are getting a chance to shine among the grasses, (that is until the ‘untidiness’ of it all gets to my husband and he is driven to mow it again, or my teenage son needs money!)
Then there are the midges.
I cannot really explain, to anyone who has not experienced it, the kind of hell that the tiny midge wreaks on our existence here.
During all these activities I was forced to get togged up in midge net and citronella oils.
They can be so thick that, on windless days, you are literally breathing them in!
And if I leave a window open over night there are always numerous corpses lying all over the sill in the morning.
I do not really understand this. Why do they die like this?
Luckily, while I do get bitten, I only itch for a short while and rarely get left with a visible bite….but I am certainly a good buffet for them and the clegs (horseflies). Hope I am building up an immunity!
Then there are the ticks too.
Every walk off the beaten track, through bracken, is followed by a good body examination and applied tweezers!
So while Japan reaps the wheat harvest, I am lurking, aimless, staring out of the windows at the steely sky and watching the ripples in puddles.
Uninspired, expect to articulate this.
Touching the void.