Story telling from Australia
I’m reading a wonderful book by Kate Llewellyn, A Fig at the Gate, in which the author describes her efforts to establish a productive garden in a windswept Adelaide suburb. Wendy Moore thought I would enjoy it and she was right (and thank you Margaret, for forwarding the book.)
Wendy’s in Nepal right now,
where thousands of people were killed in the recent earthquake that rocked Kathmandu, and where over a million people were made homeless. She visits at least once a year (you can read why here) and one time I accompanied her.
I remember being impressed by tiny plots of land and small back gardens in towns like Birtamod and Dharan, where milking cows and chooks were common and vegetables grew in abundance.
There was something heartening about seeing such productivity so close to home; recognition that ‘home’ encompasses the space around a building too, and a tacit acknowledgement that such spaces can – and should – be used to feed one’s family. I pray those affected by the earthquake will find the resources to build afresh and to sow new seeds. Nepal isn’t a wealthy country and donating feels like the right thing to do.
At Bishnu’s orphanage not a single grain of rice was ever wasted. “Add those grains up, and at the end of the year there would be enough to feed another person,” he would urge the children. Bishnu is pictured here, with me and my friend Kate, in the vegetable plot at the back of the orphanage.
Planting food feels like the right thing to do here at home too. Prolific author Kate Llewellyn details her efforts with gentle grace and an underlying urgency; she doesn’t know why she does it, she just knows she has to. As an author now in her seventies, who discovered gardening later in life, Kate’s wasting no time establishing a garden that will feed her – and, one assumes, others at times of abundance. I’m only part way through the book and already I’m loving it.
Efforts to grow food in this small back yard, covered in pavers that sit on a concrete slab, have met with limited success – and that’s being generous. Yes, there was a bumper crop of tomatoes from one plant in a raised bed, a few cucumbers and several snow peas, but the lack of any lasting direct sunlight thwarts me every time.
Yet the lemon, lime and grapefruit are doing okay – nothing to shout about but okay – and when I peered down the side of the house where leaves are turning and the potted fig has lost most of its foliage, I noticed a lone fruit left on the topmost branch.
I espaliered the fig last year – an experiment forced on me by lack of space – and it responded by producing at least 20 figs, in only its second year of growth. I doubt if it’s warm enough for the last fig to ripen (apparently they won’t ripen once picked) but the sight of that lone fig clinging to the tree gave me hope.
We all need signs of hope, so thank you Kate Llewellyn for offering such signs through your wonderful book.
And thank you to all those working so hard to help the destitute people of Nepal.