Wednesday, 15 May 2013

'Strawberries' by Edwin Morgan

Britta Huegek

There were never strawberries 
like the ones we had
that sultry afternoon
sitting on the step
of the open french window
facing each other
your knees held in mine
the blue plates in our laps
the strawberries glistening
in the hot sunlight
we dipped them in sugar
looking at each other
not hurrying the feast
for one to come
the empty plates 
laid on the stone together
with the two forks crossed
and I bent towards you
sweet in that air
in my arms
abandoned like a child
from your eager mouth
the taste of strawberries
in my memory
lean back again
let me love you

let the sun beat
on our forgetfulness
one hour of all
the heat intense
and summer lightning
on the Kilpatrick hills

let the storm wash the plates 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The (Rea-)Wee-ding Cultivator: Elizabeth von Arnim on Happiness

Britta Huegel

Elizabeth von Arnim writes:

"Oh!" cried Mrs. Wilkins.
All the radiance of April in Italy lay gathered together at her feet. The sun poured in on her. (...)
She stared. Such beauty; and she there to see it. Such beauty; and she alive to feel it. Her face was bathed in light. Lovely scents came up to the window and caressed her. A tiny breeze gently lifted her hair. (...) How beautiful, how beautiful. Not to have died before this... to have been allowed to see, breathe, feel this... She stared, her lips parted. Happy? Poor, ordinary, everyday word. But what could one say, how could one describe it? It was as though she could hardly stay inside herself, it was as though she were too small to hold so much joy, it was as though she were washed through with light. And how astonishing to feel this shere bliss, for here she was, not doing and not going to do a single unselfish thing, not going to do a thing she didn't want to do. According to everybody she had ever come across she ought at least to have twinges. She had not one single twinge.'
The Enchanted April, 1922

Britta thinks: 'Perfect bliss!', humming:  '...ain't it good to be alive?' 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Herbage Cartwheel (text by me)

Britta Huegel

Looking back I would file my "herbage cartwheel" under the heading “super tips that turned out rubbish”. I am easily impressed and I do have a vivid imagination, so my bolder sisters rapidly win me over when they call “Come, Britta!”
Especially convincing is the late Vita Sackville-West, whose garden-columns I devoured over and over. Vita tempted me to a lot of thrilling garden experiments, for example I planted the hedge of wild roses, so powerful described by her, at the edge of Mr. Avaricious’ garden, ordering the whole bunch of Scottish briars at Jensen's nursery.
I have to admit that those roses have grown, at least in height: long gigantic spiky spears aim at the sky, and in summer, after a shower of rain the foliage of the Sweet Briars smells absolutely wonderful. But their flowers last only very short, and the colours are not especially bewitching - though maybe I’m too spoilt, too hard to please to appreciate the simplicity of the tiny blossoms enough?
Anyhow, husband is nagging that the thorn-armoured-ones should disappear, because they are looking so untidy (as if order ever has been my aim in the garden…).
Well, and another idea of Vita is the Herbage Cartwheel. You need an old wooden cartwheel - which I discovered promptly at a local bootsale. Husband carted it to our garden, and I painted it a deep crimson. We put it at the back of a border, and into each segment of the spokes I planted a different kitchen herb.
For a while it looked perfectly pretty and practical. But then the herbs began to develop very differently; especially an estragon of Russian origin, who acted rather tasteless in the kitchen, and the luscious lovage that I couldn’t use in any food grew out of hand, while I had no luck with dill: hardly surprising because then the huge spruce still overshadowed everything and threw its needles onto the ground - which reacted quite sourly to that. Only the chives sprouted rampant; the parsley disappeared completely after no time at all, and an English peppermint, covered with wonderful soft hairs was on the run. 
And while the beloved ones moved away, some strange fairy ring mushrooms arrived as uninvited visitors, remained like clingy relations all over the summer, and return with aplomb every year. 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The (Rea-)Wee-ding Cultivator: Vita Sackville-West on Apples and Youth

Britta Huegel

Vita Sackville-West writes:

'I had had occasion to drive across ten miles of Kent, through the orchard country. The apple-blossom was not yet fully out; and it was still in that fugitive precious stage of being more of a promise than a fulfilment. Apple-blossoms too quickly become overblown, wheras its true character is to be as tightly youthful as an eighteen-year-old poet. There they were, the closed buds just flushing pink, making a faintly roseate haze over the old trees grey with age; closed buds of youth graciously blushing as youth must blush in the presence of age, knowing very well that withing a few months they themselves would turn into apples of autumnal fruit.'
(written 1948, published 1951)

Britta thinks: These days you have to go a long way to find blushing youth in the presence of age :-) 
As a gardener, you will have noticed instantly that my photo is of a crabapple (Malus floribunda), which stands on my balcony table.