Land

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With my desire for productivity and for beauty sometimes at odds it makes sense to have a look at this conflict – if conflict it actually is.

It comes as a no-brainer that my insisting on productivity is linked to the size of land I have in my care. Quarter of an acre, that is.

I am no big fan of intensive gardening – I want nature to give me enough of what I want, not a glut of everything. I do not wish to exhaust the land or, heavens forbid, work too much to restore fertility of the land afterwards

That means I have only a limited allowance of fertility available to me, so it makes sense to grow something that I can use.

But beauty… ah, beauty is just as important. Not to say that productive plants aren’t beautiful. Just that I have this quirk of reacting to showy, OTT beauty.

There is an abundance of extravagant scent passing by a fence trailing with jasmine and honeysuckle, a disturbing wealth of trembling in a stand of poplars and maples, an uncompromising quality to tractor seat plants and barberry and a deceptive frailty to pink then cream then green toon trees. And this is still spring, so I am not even going to go near fir trees rising from the snow, or ginkos blazing gold in autumn or the post-card worthiness of pohutukawa in bloom at Christmas (summer!).

I want all of the above and more!

And the only limiting factor at the moment (if you do not wish to count ignorance) is acreage. I may be able to squeeze quite a number of fruit trees on a quarter acre, but for the rest of the forest I dream of I need a lot more space, given that I am not into hortitorture (as my tutor called bonsai, espaliers, pleaching and other bending of the nature laws to human whim).

Some people tell me they are looking for a flat piece of land to build a house, I am asking for a couple of hills cattle have trouble navigating. Others are downsizing while I try to go all out and all over the place And when others are discussing the merits of easy care low maintenance minimalist zen borders I am learning to propagate cuttings so that I have more, more and yet more of every single specimen I encounter. No, I am not looking down at those others, I like all their gardens, I just… dream of a forest.

Because it takes all sorts, the native gardeners and the foliage gardeners and the ornamental gardeners and the orchardists and…. And forest people. Like I want to be.

Day time is easy: finish with the mortgage, set the little one up, find a piece of land that suits and go forest.

Night time is hard. I am human, after all, on a different timeline than trees and getting… younger by the day

I would like to see that forest…

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History

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I was somewhat confused last week for a couple of days. They were not good days, to be fair. I was walking in the old part of my town, where houses sit in quaint or highly maintained beauty. I like old houses, although I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in one. I love the quality of materials, the ornate details, the spacious feel of them, the established gardens. I wouldn’t want to take care of one by myself though, they were not meant for it and I would end up resenting it.

But I digress…

I was confused because here I was, watching history, surrounded by it, and yet I longed for history with everything in me, until it was painful. It took a lot of walking and analysing to figure out that, like beauty in another article, it was the degree of history, for want of a better word, that I was getting all muddled up about. Let’s see if I can explain.

I live in a very young country, set on very young land. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy living here and there is something to be said about the rebellious certainty of youth, children and teenagers alike. When I arrived here, I was in human years a bit older than this country. But human years being what they are, I am now much older than this country. A different generation already. Hence part of my discontent. From peer I feel now like a parent, wanting to guide, to teach, to shelter. If you have teenagers you know how well that will go down

I am grumbling, I know. There is nothing to be done, there is no substitute for time and experience both. So there is no fault. It’s just that, human years being what they are, I will be long gone before anything changes, and that is annoying

The confusion I felt was exactly this generation gap. The houses I was admiring are old in human years alone, and even then just barely. The history I was longing and yearning for goes a lot further back. Not just in human history, but sheer age of the land. Something to lean on to without feeling guilty I suppose

I can see only two ways forward. No, I am not going to get over myself. Denying a need does not a content human being make!

First of all I can get closer to the natural world of this country, especially as represented in the myths and legends of the native people. There is, after all, a time line of nature that might even be called permanence in our language.

The second thing I can do is travel to a place that has the history I need. Like burnt out execs blobbing in an all-inclusive resort I can also go to get my fill of history in older countries set on older land.

Sounds simple and in a way it is… now for the waiting until money and other things line up… maybe start with a passport as my Christmas present?