I have been making up allotment food parcels for friends and neighbours during this pandemic. I wrap them in newspaper with an elastic band, all recycled. A kind of bouquet.
Today’s parcel included: spinach, chard, parsley, 2 kinds of sage, 2 kinds of mint, borage, comfrey, chives, lovage, rosemary, sorrel, rhubarb, kale, lemon balm, oregano.
I deliver to their front step and text them to collect.
I have given out 7 parcels so far, more to go.
An echium leaf from my first three thriving, surviving echiums on the allotment.
‘He who has kissed a leaf
need look no further’
William Carlos Williams
OAK GALL INK
I made my first ink today. It works but it is pale. Maybe I should have left the crushed and boiled galls for longer. I will soak them for a day or two and try again. Exciting and disappointing both at once. I read that oak gall ink has been used since Roman times. It would have been used to write the Magna Carta.
Yesterday I picked some elegant yellow tulips from the plot, at home I put them in a green vase. Today they are open showing their faces, so different. Wide and expansive, black centres pointing like small explosions.
Yellow seems a happy colour, of sunshine and warm spring days. But what comes into my head is a song I learned at girl guide camp all those years ago about being sick: ‘Green and Yeller’. Is this the pandemic influence on my mind? The colours of jealousy and disease. People are reading plague diaries again. This is my plot diary, my daily writing. On a walk with Refugee Tales last year, I picked up and saved an oak gall to make ink. In the paper today, the country diarist describes how he has pounded his jar of galls to a powder, mixed in gum arabic and some iron to produce blue black ink, a permanent ink, he says that Leonardo would have used to sketch.
sorrel leaves picked 3 April 2020
Plenty of sorrel today, clean leaves without slug and snail holes, good for a mixed salad or steamed with other leaves. Oxalic acid in them means don’t eat too many on their own.
They are a mid green with red stems. Green is the colour of growing. Verdant, verdure, natural, fresh, young, grass green.
So many words for the colour green, many associated with plants: apple, moss, juniper, sage, fern, olive, grass, avocado, leaf, pea green.
A green can be a field or a park, a playing area. Green is associated with environmental concerns. It can also mean inexperienced, naive or innocent. And strangely it can mean uncultivated, ungrown, immature or childish, half-formed even artless. Tenderfoot is a gentle word, a word to keep in mind as I walk around the allotment, taking my time to look, to stop, to examine and wait, to choose my next move.