I helped out with some weeding at some allotments today in Wembley, London. The access path, an allotmenteer there told me, was once threatened by a neighboring development but it is still there narrow and bricked between blocks.
Past this passage there were the allotments, from which a skate park and playing field were visible. Wind, trap music, and an intermittent, but incredibly loud ice cream van jingle floated through the wire fence into the allotments. A school bordered the site, and an allotmenteer in a green beret threw six footballs back over the fence. New developments rose above it.
The existence of this squeezed site seemed almost miraculous. It had remained, through the world’s upheaval, for many decades. Here the seasons had repeated, and things grew, bloomed, wintered, and grew again. As I weeded it struck me that although so much else has changed, a lot has stayed the same. The time to plant garlic, or prune roses, the taste of rosemary, is the same as it was. I took comfort in how stable, rhythmic, the seasons are when so much seemed uncertain.
As we worked there were scatters of warm rush in the air, and I couldn’t help feeling that winter must have almost huffed and puffed and grumped and blown its grey for the year, like you often do in March. It was a lovely afternoon, chatting for hours in the wind, about our lives and the Beatles.
I left with fresh rosemary and serotonin flowing from the earth into my hands.