You might think this picture is a glimpse into a garden, one that might grow fruit like apples and quinces and raspberries. Or perhaps this is a garden that grows garlic and kale and sometimes tomatoes? Well, yes, it is. It does grow those things. But this gate here, leads to my garden that also grows words. It is actually a word garden. Did you ever hear of such a thing?
Lately I feel that I’ve run out of words. They’ve been eaten all up. By work commitments and parenting worries and laundry piles. And also by a big HG Wells type contraption in the city. But I need to write more words, so I will head out here for a while, tending and nurturing the garden, trying to encourage more words to grow.
I will bend over the beds and get to work. The soil will feel cold on my fingers, as I pull out the weeds and toss them into a heap. Occasionally I will take a moment and stiffly stand up, put my hands on hips and arch my stiff back, closing my eyes as the sun hits my face, before getting on with it and tossing more weeds onto the ever growing compost pile. When the weeds are cleared, and as it is winter, I might sow seeds of broad beans and spinach and peas.
I will stay out here, and do the garden chores until the words come. And they always do. Mostly, they come out of the soil, they float up from the ground like an easy pulling weed. I can trap the words in the dirt under my fingernails. And when I have enough words, I rush them inside and hurriedly put them on paper, captured just like a bug in a jar.
Sometimes the words arrive on the breeze, get caught in my hair and I have to tie it back tightly, so the words don’t fall out and escape before I can get them inside. If I let my hair out, the words may float away up into the trees, where the birds will snatch them in their beaks and use them to make a nest.
But the very best words don’t actually grow in my garden, but live behind our house, on the steep hillside with tall stringy trees, strappy grasses and giant boulders. Hidden away in secret caves with sandy floors, that’s where the words live, I am sure. They hide in there until they can see me far below in the valley, working in the garden. Then the words tumble down the hillside and into my head. When they arrive I best not linger, they won’t stay long, in one ear and out the other. I go inside to trap them. If I don’t they will disappear, tumbling down to the river beyond before floating out to sea, where maybe a fish might swallow them whole.
So yes, in this garden, this messy untended garden with its wonky beds, its possum chewed apple trees and its escaping raspberries is where I will be. Growing words, delicious tasty fresh new words, to trap them in a book.