A Christmas Clearing

Three days of quiet Christmastime on Sarah’s plot of Liverpool land.

This has been a clearing kind of year for Sarah and I. Our sequence of Clearing posts back in October and November recorded a time when we were clearing things and activities from our lives to focus better on what really matters to each of us in our different ways. And the news from here in Sarah’s shed on her allotment at Greenbank Lane Allotments this Christmas Day is that we’re still clearing.

Happy Christmas from both of us.

Sarah’s been gardening this plot of earth now since 2001. Over these sixteen years it’s been her passion, her joy, her refuge and her sanctuary. Others have helped over the years, hi Bren, hi Gemma and even me. But this is Sarah’s place and over the last few months, along with so much else, she’s been clearing it.

First of all she reduced the size of it, going down to a half plot. This will of course take less looking after but what neither of us had quite appreciated until the halving was done was that changing the size and perspective of the place would lead to pretty much a complete redesign. Oh well, the best way to do a redesign after sixteen years is to strip the place right back to a plot of earth and that’s what you find us doing. Sarah the Gardener and me, the help.

So far we’ve built a new dead hedge to divide Sarah’s plot from its original other half, constructed new compost bins, dug up or cut back lots of the planting that was looking over large in the new smaller space, begun reshaping the paths and beds – and cleared. Cleared so much that was ‘going to come in handy on the allotment’ but mostly never did. Oh and we demolished the deck in front of her now cleared out shed, and have been drying the beams and boards from it in her polytunnel for a few weeks now, ready for burning.

So we turn up on Christmas Eve to begin the Christmas Clearing.

And by the evening of Christmas Eve we’ve made a good start with the festive fire.

This morning, Christmas Day, we’re back. The forecast rain only arrives in occasional squalls, so as well as the deck burning much other work is done, space clearing and constructing new planting beds on the cleared land.

Around us growth has mostly paused, leaves are mostly gone and the dogwood here is back to its beautiful red and yellow self.

As well as the big conflagration down the new far end we have a small fire on the newly flagged area near the shed, to keep us warm while we sit for a while now and then.

And eat some of Sarah’s French apple tart.

In her own clearing post Sarah wrote about clearing recipes and time to be able to experiment with baking new things. This is one, giving us the joy of itself and the energy to get on with more of our Christmas Clearing. While I’m down here at the far end I pause from my work (a fairly frequent occurrence), look up and chance to see the day’s quiet miracle.

A double rainbow over Sarah’s allotment.

The rainbows are only with us for a couple of minutes. A couple of more or less speechless minutes.

Turning around we see the works of man. Of lots of men (all the ones I’ve seen have been men anyway) currently busy demolishing and rebuilding the University halls of residence over the other side of Greenbank Lane from the allotments.

Sarah watched the crane arrive in bits a week or so ago and gradually get pieced together so it could go up and meet the sky.

A curious thing we notice about it today, while there’s no one else watching or looking after the crane, is that it moves. Very slowly and very gently swinging around with the wind. Naturally we invent a reason for this. Which is that it would be structurally bad for the crane if that big crossing over bit was pulling too much on the tall standing up bit.

“That’s also why the whole structure’s full of holes for the wind to pass through” Sarah confidently states.

We could be wrong and maybe someone’s not pulled back hard enough on whatever you call a handbrake on a crane? What would we know?

While we’re looking that way though, let’s zoom in on something not seen from this direction in many a decade.

Right in the centre of the picture here is Mossley Hill Church.

By next Christmas the church will once again be obscured by University halls. But for now we’re very happy to see it from here on this Christmas Day and bear witness to a time, long before our own lives, when church towers were the highest structures most people ever saw.

Evening arrives.
And now the shortest day has passed the magnolia tree waits for springtime.
Sarah gathers rosemary and dogwood to bring home.
And all is well.
Happy Christmas from both of us.

From here, in Sarah’s cleared out shed on her small plot of earth, wishing you peace, food, warmth, shelter, love, time and rainbows x

We were back on Plot 44 for Boxing Day too. Still clearing, still lighting fires, no photographs. Quiet breaths on the winter air.

 

See our other clearing posts here.

6 Replies to “A Christmas Clearing”

  1. Happy Christmas and loads more rainbows to you both too! Your photographs are wonderful … I can’t think of anything better than spending Christmas on the allotment. We used to have allotments years ago and then we travelled a bit, but your post is making me want one again. All the best to you and Sarah for 2018!

  2. I like that you focus on the process of clearing. Not what’s going, not what’s coming, but what’s happening. Surely the absolute expression of what an allotment is for.

    1. Thank you Sally. As you say, an allotment is all about what’s happening. A continuous sequence of present moments and their small, sometimes not so small, changes. It’s Sarah’s place and over the years I’ve been mostly a visitor whose main activity has been reading. But over these last few weeks I’ve loved doing this helping with its clearing and its emerging new shape.

  3. A lovely post Ronnie. Very best wishes, peace, kindness and joy to you both from over here in SW France. Looks like your soil is amazing!! Hardly a stone to be seen…unlike our plot over here!xx

  4. my friend was walking back from Calderstones park and was blown away by the rainbow- you had the most peace on earth christmas i have heard of yet this year – speak soon-or maybe listen! mike

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