Many years ago when I first moved to Teesside there was an incinerator for household rubbish. A place to visit and dump off the garden waste and unwanted bulky items. It stank and apparently was not good for the environment, so they replaced it with a new one. This is not better because now I have to lift my rubbish up into a skip rather than let it ceremoniously drop into a pit of foul-smelling detritus.
Where it used to be is now an ‘environment’ i.e. it is so contaminated they can’t do anything with it except let it be a wild place. It is next to a marsh and is very pleasant, wild and overrun with small wildlife. Natural native wild plants (weeds to most people) are in abundance. I like it.
I have tried to make my garden more sustainable , green, organic, a place to be. Last winter it flooded and was under water for weeks which seems to have killed off much of the green stuff around the edge of my weed patch. So I have planted, and been digging and making drain ditches and raised beds and placing sculptures, a chicken coop and fruit trees and Spring bulbs. I have been busy, I like it.
I invested in the unused for some time trampoline. I have learnt to call it up-cycling, is it cheaper to just buy a new greenhouse, or does the Heath Robinson approach or Stig of the dump make the artefact a more valued item, I think it does. My green house is a sort of polytunnel, or a bothy or a den or a place to be. Imagine a trampoline inverted with polythene wrapped around. I will grow tomato and other plants in the spring.
I made a rock and stone sculpture out of 4 bits of stone, two are straight vertical straight sided columns and two are round boulders all stood on end. I made it out of rock I had. I created art. The moss on it is growing and it is good.
My coin log is gaining in value slowly. It takes a surprising amount of effort to bang coins into a log but the effect is very pleasing and what else to do with 1p and 2p coins?
Our cat died after 17 years of inactivity and sleep. She will be missed so I bought a sculpted stone of a sleeping cat and placed it in her place in the sun in the Buddleia hedge. Its nice but sad. Our new cat brings us home-grown mice as a present from our garden. Life and death is natural, unregulated.
I think next door saw me doing things and realised that their garden had also died. The previous owners used to have vegetables and a great growing garden which I envied – but did not have the enthusiasm or will to try to emulate. When they left the garden went downhill and has now been skipped. Almost everything has been replaced and it is now a manicured, raised and contoured uniform green surface with a curvy path that is smooth and even and fit for a visiting queen should she wish to meander down. I hate it. It’s not natural, it might as well be artificial turf so far as i can see. It took an army of smoking garden gnomes over two weeks to construct it. Yes, its finished, whilst mine will be years before I am done. I cannot begin to think how much it would have cost. And no queen is ever going to be allowed to walk mine anyway. I like my crazy paving I rescued from where someone had dumped it on wasteland and not next doors immaculate seed catalogue quality garden path, I am proud of the fact there is chicken poop on mine, but there is a lot of it. My path has different textures and wild natural plants (yes weeds) mosses, lichens, tiny little plants with little blue flowers. I cut my lawn two times this year, as mostly the chickens seem to keep it roughly in order. Nice dandelions and daisies. Next door man seems to spend roughly 2 hours every other week trying to shave his green into an undulating weed free cricket square. I like to sit and watch. When he’s done I give the chickens a handful of bird seed.
I used to think gardening was such an old person thing, but it occupies the mind and body, something to value, something to like, its partaking of nature and the world. I like doing things on my own scale in my own time without the need to rush or complete or get it right, I can experiment, then move on and learn, re-use re-purpose stuff. I do it not to get something for nothing or even to invest but to just be somewhere where i can influence something, even though i know i cannot govern entirely a plant’s growth nor can I determine every outcome, like whether the chickens will just eat what I planted whilst I put away the tools I used. Flowers and plants and chickens do their own thing, I need to not be defeated, and I am not, because it doesn’t matter. I dug a hole and got out some clay, one day I will make something with it, when I need to, like a neolithic man. It’s building sand castles and watching them be washed away, it’s ultimately pointless but I like it.
Gandhi said “Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it”.
I think doing things in the garden helps me, in a world environmental context it is pretty small stuff, even the land of the former incinerator is, but it is important to me.
I was putting my pills into separate day compartments, I suddenly felt the liberation from having to put the right day’s pill in the right hole and from having to stick with the printed days in order on the box, I prefer Monday to Sunday So I wrote the days in that order, but if i put 7 pills in 7 compartments I no longer have to put the right pill in the right compartment and match them up. That freedom comes from what I think my garden teaches me.
A different neighbours new dog got into the garden and chewed off the tail of one of the chickens the other day. It was distressing but natural, it’s what a dog should do in its own world. The chicken is not very happy about it, the others no longer let it sit on their perch because it is different. It preens the remaining half feather and avoids the others who peck at its very sore bald patch. It looks depressed and I know how it feels. It is alive though and it lays eggs and carries on because thats what chickens do.
I think there is a need to try creative expression and to have the freedom to do….whatever, without constraint or requirements or what other people think for maintaining or achieving good mental well-being.
I’m not doing it for money or recognition or compliance or to copy/ imitate or make a point, or statement, but just to feel good and in control or to cope with not being in control. It’s not a bad reason to do it and my little garden world helps me cope with the bigger world a bit.
Society is though, under law and there are standards and rules and the need to conform. These standards are confusing to me because they are not right or uniform and don’t match with what I am used to. Something big is wrong with the world out there, and I think that is what impacts unhelpfully upon how I feel.
I came across this story at man-sets-himself-on-fire-at-national-mall/
One day after Washington, D.C. was locked down….Park Police say a man set himself on fire in the middle of the National Mall.
Witnesses told NBC’s Washington affiliate that they saw a man “pouring gasoline on himself, then setting himself on fire.” Nearby joggers stripped off their shirts and attempted to douse the flames, while others called the police.
The man was airlifted to a hospital, though there is no word yet on his condition.
So why set yourself on fire? why do that? I don’t understand. Why take pictures of it,? You would not want to remember it. But if it’s happening maybe you should not be criticised. To set out to film it is wrong to me, I would not go and film a friend doing it. If I happened to be there though what would I do, there were those that filmed WTC jumpers in New York (9-11) and Air France Concorde flight 4590 crashing in Paris in 2000 and Phan Thi Kim Phuc with Napalm burns in 1972 Vietnam, the buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc 1963 in Saigon, children starving in Biafra, asian and Japanese earthquake Tsunami, the list goes on. These images stay in the public conscience and in mine. They tell the story better than the words of the journalist.
There are degrees of freedom in society, there are the restrictions and some are compulsory, and some are compulsive. We have a nature in us that is voluntary and habitual. There are states or quantum levels between voluntary and what is mandated by law. It’s too hard to understand though why it is ok to show an image of a man burning himself, but in that harsh image see a need to pixelate the image or words on his shirt. It seems unlikely it was a subversive message. Even if it was, so what? Is the story that someone took a photo or video the story and not why it might be that someone set themselves on fire. Maybe it was a logo and the manufacturer might be tainted? What is really offensive? What is really what should not be shown. Were the people who put out the fire doing the right thing? Why the Police? Should he be arrested? Surely Fire or medical service is a better option? These things become the story not what the man did it for.
What should really not happen and what should be controlled and what should be free. Some levels of restricted behaviour are self-imposed and voluntary, some of us are unnecessarily harsh on ourselves.
I object to a society that condemns a man for doing such a thing. I also condemn a society that makes someone feel that is a way to go. I really do not understand the need to censor. I cannot comprehend the passion or strong feeling that could drive someone to such an action.
I can not cope with that world, it is too awful and harsh and makes no sense to me. The man’s gesture is pointless to the world and is obscured by the trivia surrounding the story but perhaps his actions were important to him.
I like the natural and free range world in my garden.
That’s all I can cope with and it is important to me.