Sunday, 21 September 2008

Firewood and harvest festivals

Italian John gave me some wood to light my fires with - about fifty empty grape boxes. He'd brought them down on a wheelbarrow and offered me a few as I passed. He ended up tipping them all on the end of my allotment. He said he had another "lorry"-load (i.e. barrow). He said, if I burnt them there they would kill the grass. It's a thought. I meant to go back down tonight to build a couple of fires, mainly to kill that vicious weed I'm digging up. It's not Japanese Knotweed, but it ought to be classed as invasive.

I cut the runner beans down today. It's always sad when you do that - it marks the end of summer. No more beans till next year.

Something Understood on Radio Four this morning was all about Harvest Festivals. I used to love the Harvest Festival when I was a kid. The front of the church was piled high with vegetables, mainly marrows. My mum only ever donated tins of beans, which I was rather ashamed of - I wished I could bring huge marrows into school. After the service, we used to go round all the pensioners' houses with baskets of veg (imagine them letting little girls do that now!).

I don't agree with Mark Tully that we should recognise the hand of God in all this (or whatever he said); but Nature is powerful, and land pretty soon reverts to Nature if left untended. We should be grateful for what we can eke from our plots in the face of constant onslaughts by slugs, caterpillars, and vicious weeds: it is a precarious way of ensuring I have enough to eat, dependent on the goodwill of the council and on a constant battle with disease and wildlife. I'm grateful. I can sing the hymns in the spirit of them without having to believe in God.

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