My favourite song becomes a healing sign.

E como segunda parte deste post trago-vos mais fotos de flor – haha, não desistam de mim. Em maio deste ano resolvemos fazer uma visita aos jardins da Beth Chatto, um dos que me inspiraram a fazer um gravel garden (ou “jardim de pedrinhas”) aqui em casa. Estou devendo um post sobre isso, mas por causa das chuvas ainda não foi possível deixar tudo pronto; se bem que terminar de plantar os canteiros só no ano que vem mesmo, pois já estamos no outono. Mas foi uma mudança considerável e que me deixou muito feliz. Digamos que a frequência de uso do jardim aumentou uns 50% ou mais.

Os jardins da Beth, assim como diversos outros jardins públicos na Inglaterra, têm em anexo uma lojinha de plantas e um café simpático. Comprei mini margaridas mexicanas (que estão sobrevivendo desde maio) e adicionei diversos tipos de plantas à minha wishlist – suculentas, gerânios, agapantos, miosótis, clematis, alpinas… Mal posso esperar pela próxima primavera.

Hoje compramos um incinerador de folhas, amanhã chega o depósito de ferramentas e semana que vem o resto dos itens para definir áreas – inclusive meu fire pit, onde se tudo der certo pretendo assar uns marshmallows no inverno.

2021 tem sido um ano tão… decepcionante. De certa maneira pior do que 2020, onde pelo menos o caos reinante era novidade e havia um certo grau de expectativa em relação ao futuro incerto. Mesmo os mais pessimistas apostavam que o verão de 2021 seria de parques lotados, viagens, pessoas sentadas em cafés tomando aperol apritz, amigos e famílias se abraçando e tentanto recuperar os 12 meses perdidos numa clausura aflitiva. Mas choveu o verão quase inteiro. A redenção que esperávamos não veio, o vírus segue nesse chove-não-molha sem desaparecer totalmente, muita gente sem dinheiro, a política cada vez mais intolerável, os meses passam voando e irrelevantes, é quase natal novamente, eu fico encarando telas e paredes sem entusiasmo algum e a sensação de anticlímax é palpável.

2021 prometeu tanto e entregou tão pouco, tão mal. Todo e qualquer motivo para experimentar um instante de alegria e realização deverá ser agarrado com unhas e dentes. Nem que seja um marshmallow torrado com chocolate quente do Tesco nos fundos de um quintal de subúrbio. Talvez seja tarde demais pra salvar esse ano, mas nunca será pouca coisa respirar o ar gelado de uma noite de outono ao lado dos seus companheiros de vida, reconhecer o privilégio em fazer planos e agradecer por ainda estarmos aqui.

The Pergola at Hampstead Heath

Em julho – que foi ontem, mas foi há dois meses, mas também parece ter sido há três decadas ou cinco minutos atrás – fui fazer um piquenique em Hampstead Heath, o famoso parque do bairro de Hampstead. Eu já estive lá diversas vezes, principalmente pra lanchar no café da Kenwood House, uma casa senhorial construída no século 17 e antiga moradia dos condes de Mansfield – um deles sendo o tutor da Dido Belle, a primeira herdeira negra da Inglaterra (interessantíssima história que foi transformada em filme estrelando a maravilhosa Gugu Mbatha-Raw). A casa, mantida pela English Heritage, é aberta a visitação pública; a biblioteca é tão bonita que por si só vale a viagem.

Uma parte de Hampstead Heath que eu ainda não tinha visitado era a pérgola, e por isso resolvemos nos reunir lá. Não estava esperando nada além de uma área coberta com algumas plantas, mas assim que chegamos meu queixo caiu. A estrutura em si é enorme, dividida em várias áreas com moods bem diferentes umas das outras: arcos, cúpulas, lagos artificiais, campos abertos com áreas para piquenique, áreas de sombra cobertas de musgo e hera, jardins de inspiração mediterrânea e outros tipicamente ingleses. O plantio foi feito para realçar o melhor de cada época do ano, como as glicínias e campânulas na primavera, rosas e petúnias no verão, heras e fúcsias no outono. Chegamos no fim de julho, aquela fase de transição entre estações; mas ainda havia ecos das anteriores enquanto o outono já começava a se anunciar (preciso voltar no fim de outubro).

Chegamos na hora do almoço de um dia bonito de semana, e como dá pra ver pelas fotos tivemos o lugar quase que inteirinho só pra nós (fora umas 3 ou 4 pessoas perambulando e um casal fazendo fotos de casamento). Infelizmente planejamos mal e ignoramos a previsão de chuva – ok, a bem da verdade essas previsões não são sempre muito confiáveis, mas nesse dia a natureza não estava a fim de surpreender e correspondeu à risca. Cerca de meia hora depois que chegamos a chuva desabou BONITO e tivemos que nos esconder debaixo dos arcos, sentados no chão de terra. A chuva não passou, mas deu uma aliviada que nos permitiu correr até o uber sem medo de tomar um raio pela cara, ir pra casa de um dos amigos para enfim comer nossos petiscos comprados no mercadinho asiático de Golders Green sentados na sala, assistindo Netflix e fazendo planos de voltar.

Beth Chatto Gardens, Essex.

Beth Chatto was an award-winning plantswoman, author and lecturer. Her work at the Gardens began in 1960. She took an overgrown wasteland of brambles, parched gravel and boggy ditches of the disused fruit farm belonging to her husband, botanist Andrew Chatto. She used plants adapted by nature to thrive in different conditions: right plant, right place. An inspirational, informal garden has developed.

The gardens are now  a family business, run by her granddaughter Julia Boulton.The online nursery is open all year around. The gardens and are open to the public seasonally. They cover around 7 acres (2.8 ha) and include a visitor information centre, tearoom, giftshop and plant nursery.

Chatto lived in the white house that remains overlooking the Water Garden. She was often seen about the gardens up until her death in May 2018 at the age of 94.

Midsummer.

Midsummer beauty.

On nights like this we used to swim in the quarry,  
the boys making up games requiring them to tear off  the girls’ clothes  
and the girls cooperating, because they had new bodies since last summer
and they wanted to exhibit them, the brave ones  
leaping off  the high rocks — bodies crowding the water.

The nights were humid, still. The stone was cool and wet,
marble for  graveyards, for buildings that we never saw,  
buildings in cities far away.

On cloudy nights, you were blind. Those nights the rocks were dangerous,  
but in another way it was all dangerous, that was what we were after.  
The summer started. Then the boys and girls began to pair off  
but always there were a few left at the end — sometimes they’d keep watch,
sometimes they’d pretend to go off  with each other like the rest,
but what could they do there, in the woods? No one wanted to be them.  
But they’d show up anyway, as though some night their luck would change,  
fate would be a different fate.

At the beginning and at the end, though, we were all together.
After the evening chores, after the smaller children were in bed,  
then we were free. Nobody said anything, but we knew the nights we’d meet  
and the nights we wouldn’t. Once or twice, at the end of summer,  
we could see a baby was going to come out of all that kissing.

And for those two, it was terrible, as terrible as being alone.  
The game was over. We’d sit on the rocks smoking cigarettes,  
worrying about the ones who weren’t there.

And then finally walk home through the fields,  
because there was always work the next day.  
And the next day, we were kids again, sitting on the front steps in the morning,  
eating a peach.  Just that, but it seemed an honor to have a mouth.  
And then going to work, which meant helping out in the fields.  
One boy worked for an old lady, building shelves.  
The house was very old, maybe built when the mountain was built.

And then the day faded. We were dreaming, waiting for night.  
Standing at the front door at twilight, watching the shadows lengthen.  
And a voice in the kitchen was always complaining about the heat,
wanting the heat to break.

Then the heat broke, the night was clear.  
And you thought of  the boy or girl you’d be meeting later.  
And you thought of  walking into the woods and lying down,  
practicing all those things you were learning in the water.  
And though sometimes you couldn’t see the person you were with,
there was no substitute for that person.

The summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting.
And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending messages:  
You will leave the village where you were born  
and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful,
but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though  
you can’t say what it was,
and eventually you will return to seek it.

– Midsummer, by Louise Gluck

The White Pulse of May.

The very end of spring is green and white. Country lanes are illuminated with cow parsley, a delicate foam of tiny petals in a sea of pale green. Every year, this is what tells me summer is near. A certain kind of sadness for the dying spring, a certain kind of hope for drier days (warm and light don’t tempt me), a certain kind of longing for the autumn that will follow. Fields of cow parsley are ticking clocks of the seasons and life; fresh young flowers blossoming and dancing on the wind now, but just like everything else soon they’ll wither and die. 

“Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,—
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
‘Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
‘Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:—
So this wing’d hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When twofold silence was the song of love
.”

– Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Wherever we go.

What reconciles me to my own death more than anything else is the image of a place: a place where your bones and mine are buried, thrown, uncovered, together. They are strewn there pell-mell. One of your ribs leans against my skull. A metacarpal of my left hand lies inside your pelvis. (Against my broken ribs your breast like a flower.) The hundred bones of our feet are scattered like gravel. It is strange that this image of our proximity, concerning as it does mere phosphate of calcium, should bestow a sense of peace. Yet it does.

With you I can imagine a place where to be phosphate of calcium is enough.

(Extract from “And our faces, my heart, brief as photos”, by John Berger)

In the air.

S P R I N G
Forsythias and camelias are out; cherry trees and magnolias almost there. Derby popped for a visit; he is our neighbour’s ginger cat and a while ago he spent a lot of time on our doorstep – we later discovered his owners had been away and he was just lonely. He’s a cutie. Diesel hates his guts though. :)

You’ll always fail sometimes when you begin.

And I know you wanna get out of here.

i know you think this town is the problem but maybe it’s not, maybe it’s you
i know you think there are walls around you, but did you ever look
it’s so easy to blame other people, it’s so easy to hate where you’re from
but the truth is we’re the product of nothing
just a collection of the things that we’ve done

what if the songs you say define you were just the ones that you heard first?
what if your first love could be your last love if you hadn’t used it as a way to rehearse?
it’s so easy to think of an ending, it’s so easy to start all over again
but the truth is you have to stick with it;
you’ll always fail sometimes when you begin.

– summer camp