Caught by the River

Allotment Watch: November

Nina Walsh | 25th November 2011

by Nina Walsh

I have heard many times over and experienced for myself, the powerful cleansing and calm that gardening can bring to a busy, chattering mind. A means to relax the body from the stress of modern life and a time for solitary reflection, gardening can literally be our saviour.

This was never so true as with my dear companion, Erick Legrand, he of Camden noise band, Headcleaner. Not known for his peaceful, meditative qualities (rather his erratic and often destructive ones!) Erick literally hammered, dug and buried his worries away here, on a small area of plot 18, for the concluding five years of his life. It saved him from self destructing on more than one occasion and left us with a legacy of rusty metal and wood.

Sometimes there were flowers but more often metal cowboys, soon to be dismantled and reborn as giant praying mantis, with telephones for eyes. Or lawn mower engine rabbits and not forgetting ‘Von Proot’ with his watering can funnel salute! Any crap that could be salvaged from the waste tip or dug from the soil became treasure. It was here when, on those rare moments, Erick was actually silenced, abandoned to the sensitivity of the present and aliveness of the ordinary world, alert without tension, and released from the turmoil of his own hectic mind. A sculptural wonderland and a graceful addition to my own little escape from life’s, often daunting, reality.

We would sometimes joke about what an unusual memorial garden this would one day become, as his illness was no secret. However, now it is a strange reality and the hundreds of forget-me-nots we both delighted in each spring shall mean so much more than just a beautiful display of pretty blue flowers.

Erick’s renegade works of art did not stop at his own little patch either. On discovering that my friends, now fellow contributors to Caught by the Rivers Allotment Watch, John and Armorel had had their lovely bench stolen from the apple tree bower, a new one was promptly crafted from scaffold planks and moved into place, much to their delight.

It’s been a long year for both of us, mon petit coeur Francais, and I respect your decision to now check out. An oeuf is an oeuf right? You will be missed enormously by everyone up at the Gunsite and especially by me, your soul mate and kindred spirit. May the rusty rake of Ertha the mantis forever protect plot 18 and your own light continue to shine, ripening all the fruits of our creations!

” Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.” – May Sarton

Sloe Gin

Prick the fruit with a toothpick, bottle with the Gin and sugar, leave for at least 2 months and make mine a large one!

Mrs Bun xx

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