It is a time of immense uncertainty. The risk of a nuclear calamity seems closer than at any time since the end of the Cold War and, at home, Brexit seems to influence every personal decision, every plan for the future. It is easy to feel helpless during such times, as world leaders play out their own lives within the international framework, albeit taking decisions that will ultimately affect us all. I feel at the moment that there is little point in worrying about something that you can do little about. As politically engaged as I usually feel, for now, I accept that in reality my thoughts and actions are a sideline to the main events of our age. Thinking too deeply about it could be frightening, disturbing, strenuous, disquieting. This blog is of course all about engaging with the big issues, but it is also about profiling the small things that matter in our lives. For example, we need to remember the simple joy of going outdoors and getting our hands dirty. In times of uncertainty therefore I suggest that we all do some gardening.
A garden needn’t be large. It could even just be a few potted plants. Whatever the size it will bring joy. Soil is at the heart of a garden and with it comes the promise of new life. It brings joy, wonder, fruitful bounty, colour, radiance, glorious floral scent, plus an ecosystem bigger than any other. It can change mindsets and offer an escape to what it really means to live and to live well. It is easy to forget the joys of gardening but I believe we would all be better off if we did more of it. It is both an art and a science, but mainly it just requires common sense, a good deal of perseverance and a lot of care. Anybody can be a gardener.
I have lots of projects going on in my life at the moment which is taking me away from the blog more often than I would like. Partly, these involve writing elsewhere, but I am spending lots of time outside, on and off the farm, and of course in the garden. This weekend I decided to create a new vegetable garden (a little late I know, but it’s still not too late to start). I will certainly blog about it in more detail once the seedlings are in, but for now, I wanted to write about how enjoyable a time it has been. A rather small, insignificant piece of turf has transformed into a fertile bed with rich compost embedded within, ready to be cultivated and spread with seeds (or in my case, seedlings). Hopefully later in the year it will bring me a bounteous harvest. I look forward to seeing it develop.
A garden is like life. You can attempt to control it, but ultimately you have to accept that your grip cannot remain steadfast all the time. There are however great benefits, both mental and physical, and we should all embrace it.