The autumn equinox almost upon us. Went out in the gathering darkness and spaded up wild fennel stalks, tenacious and sharp-edged. Planted starry flowering bushes of lemon verbena. Singing an old griot melody about palm wine drunkards from Mali that I have heard Sibongile Khumalo sing once in a smoky cabaret in Long Street. Long quavering, melting notes and lyrics full of the sea and the fields wet with sea dew, and palm trees dropping coconuts, and the breasts of women moving as they walk with water in jugs from the river.
Then the moon, almost full, was coming up and I was soaking the new lemon verbenas with buckets of cold water, my ankles muddy. Barefoot and smelling like sweaty liquorice, the fennel in my blood. Mindless happiness, the dog lying under the avocado tree waiting for me to come back to the lit kitchen and feed him.
There is nothing so ancient or wicked as digging in the black earth and uprooting, transplanting, seeding, planting, tamping down and watering. Conjuring new life, making the earth fruitful in partnership with mysterious forces, mineral, animal, vegetable and inconnues. The full moon slanting in on my busy work like a delicate shining power. A drumming in my spirit. How curious that gardening has never been outlawed, made taboo.
There is something unleashed in the mud and rich dirt and roots yielding, a satisfaction and rightness of relationship. New bushes set in place before the winter rains. Next summer they will be as high as my waist in the river-silt soil.
The autumn equinox drawing close now, all is ready.