Monday, March 1, 2010

Lessons on the river and in the garden

It's hot, its been hot for quite a few days in a row now. The gum trees, and some of the deciduous trees around us have responded by dropping copious amounts of leaves that soon build to a fire hazard if I don't rake them every couple of days. The garden is suffering, what hasn't been scorched has been attacked by mildew and fungus.

I went with some trepidation to look at the fig and the olive tree who grow near the back fence and receive little or no water all summer. They were thriving - it was near perfect conditions for them! Big juicy figs that you can barely get your hand around and branches beginning to bend with the first pickable crop of Kalamatas.

They were planted six, maybe seven years ago but were always overshadowed by the neighbours Marri trees. Sadly, last winter they cut down all the trees on their block, changing the conditions and the views for us. Azaleas and hydrangeas, clivias and violets all shrivelled in the bright and exposed conditions but the two slow and sickly trees began to pick up.

I had been planning to write about drying figs today but as the story of the trees emerged my mind began to think about the effects of change. Two days ago I stood on a barge and watched Nerys' ashes float downstream accompanied by a flotilla of roses. I stood with Nerys' eldest daughter, she had lost her Ma and I had lost my best friend and mentor. Everyone there was missing a huge part of what made them who they were.
It's always hard to grow up. How much harder is it when we lose our wise elders and have no magic touchstone when we need direction? We become the older generation so shockingly suddenly that we feel totally unprepared for the job. What we need to treasure is those facets of them that we have admired and take them for our own. We can call on the wisdom we know they would have applied to life and help each other remember.

Still, thanks to the neighbour who let the light in, the figs are ripe. Thanks to Nerys and my mother, and all the wise women in my life, I know how to pick and preserve them and how to cook with them too. I know about sticky fig sap and itchy fig leaves and what happens when you eat too many. This I can pass on to my grand daughter and hopefully I can learn to become her wise elder as we grow up together.


1 comment:

  1. OH.. that sounds like a lovely way to say goodbye.
    it's amazing how much I miss someone I never actually met.


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