In these here parts, March certainly came in like a roaring feline. Rain and wind outmatching each other with their ferocity and noise.
Now I watch the small folk bask in the sunshine, not at all unlike lambs themselves. Springing from one place to the other, one imaginary world to the next before flopping red-cheeked in the cool of the house, calling out for ice pops and squash. Like ewes with their lambs, I am sure I would recognise their bleat above all others in the playground!
I have been feeling unsettled and twitchy due to the fact I have pulled my calf muscle and haven't been able to run. I have done nothing but run since New Year, with my marathon firmly at the forefront of my mind, so to suddenly be stationary has been unsettling. A small child brought to a halt mid spin, my body still humming with the motion, my mind trying to find an anchor point.
It is with a thankful heart that I retreat to the allotment and my role as apprentice. There is no stopping here. Not now.
The top layer of earth has begun to crumble and the colour fade as the dampness of winter evaporates. Over eager weeds pop their heads up, letting us know with their mischievous presence, that it is indeed time. We can begin sowing and planting and chitting in earnest.
Even in sleep I am kept busy.
Dreams of pea sticks and borders of nasturtiums, marigolds and sprigs of rosemary, baskets for lettuce and radishes and summer plates of bright, fragrant tomatoes with shreds of home grown basil.
I wax and wane, between elation and sweet daydreams of home grown food, visions of a flowery, productive idle and sheer anxiety at the prospect of disappointing failure, of slug annihilation or pigeon pecking feasts, badly timed plantings or thin pickings. I am humbled by my total lack of knowledge and devour gardening boooks, while gossiping about joyful margarites, the horrors of japanese knot weed and when to plant long/ short day plants.
It is a terrible cliche, for certain but truly we are easier here. With no cars and a quiet so complete as to make your ears ring, our fight or flight watchfulness, so interwoven and entangled in our anxious psyches, suddenly feels noisy and wasteful. Calming down and breathing deep has become the first actions of our time there.
A cup of tea and a biscuit, a pause in the sunshine. Reading and discussing which end of a spud should go in first.
Of course with the promise of vegetables and herbs and little edible flowers, my ponderings and dreaming have merrily wound their way to cooking. And even here, I have been pointed in new directions(by my...friend, mentor, neighbour, fellow allotmenteer?) She introduced me to Claudia Roden. What an experience. For anyone with a love of folk, food and family, of life at the table, this woman is pure joy. She writes tales full of gastronomic history, laced with memories and peppered with folk lore. I am ambling through A Middle Eastern Feast, tucking in pages, marking recipes with fabulous names: Mujadarra, dukkha, hummus bi tahina. Shopping lists for sumac, orange blossom water and mentha viridis seeds to grow the perfect mint for Moroccan Mint Tea.
So much to learn, hopefully enough lifetime to do it.