Who’s this man meddling at St Mark’s on a Monday morning?!
This morning, 6th November, the air feels distinctly chilly despite bright sunshine. Sheila, John and I decide it’s time to harvest the medlars before the weather gets too frosty. The medlar tree, variety Nottingham, was one of the first planted by Keith when we started the Community Garden. Closely related to apples, medlars are unusual in that they have to be stored for many weeks to ripen or ‘blet’ before they can be eaten raw or used to make a perfumed amber jelly for game and other meats. A bit of a speciality!
Autumn is a magical time in the garden. The fruit has fallen, the flowers are fading and all appears to be death and dying. But wait! Dig in the compost heap and you’ll find hundreds of worms are busy converting this year’s green waste into rich, friable compost to mulch next year’s crops. Look for the buds already forming on the bare branches of spring-flowering shrubs and listen out for the plans that are being hatched in preparation for another year in the garden. At the end of Gillian Clarke’s poem Burning Nettles she says, “Fire, Buried in flower-heads, makes Bright ritual of decay, Transubstantiates the green leaf to fertility.”
We tipped the ashes from Sunday’s bonfire onto the compost heap. The cycle of Death and Resurrection is at the heart of our gardening. At dawn on Easter Day each year we meet in the garden to kindle the new fire and carry the Light of Christ into the dark Church. For me this is the most symbolic and moving moment of the Christian year.