Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Seven swans a-swimming

Six deer a-laying

Five GO-OLD rings

Four cunning birds

Three duck’s legs

Two pheasant cocks

And a partridge-less wonky pear tree!

Swans on the fjord

All right, so I’m falling behind on the Twelve Days of Christmas, but I’ll catch up…

There are more – significantly more – than seven swans in the picture above. Roskilde Fjord with its shallow waters seems very popular with swans in late autumn / early winter; it seems like a gathering place for their migration South for the winter. Some swans do spend the winter in Denmark, whereas others fly South.

In “The Ugly Duckling” Hans Christian Andersen lets the swans fly South for the winter, though of course the Ugly Duckling in the fairy tale is left behind.

They were dazzling white, with long graceful necks. They were swans. They uttered a very strange cry as they unfurled their magnificent wings to fly from this cold land, away to warmer countries and to open waters. (…) It was not that he envied them, for how could he ever dare dream of wanting their marvellous beauty for himself? He would have been grateful if only the ducks would have tolerated him-the poor ugly creature.

Well, I know my other references to Hans Christian Andersen – our most famous Danish writer – have been to the darker, more depressing stories he wrote, but at least as far as The Ugly Duckling goes he’s actually showing an optimist streak:

He felt so very happy, but he wasn’t at all proud, for a good heart never grows proud. He thought about how he had been persecuted and scorned, and now he heard them all call him the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. The lilacs dipped their clusters into the stream before him, and the sun shone so warm and so heartening. He rustled his feathers and held his slender neck high, as he cried out with full heart: “I never dreamed there could be so much happiness, when I was the ugly duckling.”

You never know who you can be – or who you are going to be – and I guess this does for gardens as well. I think my lesson from this has to be that I need to open myself up to things that aren’t necessarily what I think of as “my thing”. I’ve already started – by accident – with the new bed in the lawn. I intended it to be a perennial bed, but then the only plants I had to put in it were roses and some soft-fruit bushes, so it is turning out to be more of a low shrubbery with some perennials dotted in-between. And a vacuum at the front where I will have to grow something from seed. Annuals, or maybe pretty vegetables.

It will be lovely, though absolutely not in the way I imagined when I started digging up the lawn for the bed. After all, as long as I grow something it will be lovely. I’ve got the seeds, I’ve got the bulbs; I just need to make something, any thing, happen and then I will be a success. And I do that every year, so I guess I am already a success. In other words, I rustle my feathers, hold my slender neck high and cry out with a full heart: “I am a gardener!”

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Autumn is over the long leaves that love us,

And over the mice in the barley sheaves;

Yellow the leaves of the rowan above us,

And yellow the wet wild-strawberry leaves.


The hour of the waning of love has beset us,

And weary and worn are our sad souls now;

Let us part, ere the season of passion forget us,

With a kiss and a tear on thy drooping brow.

(W.B. Yeats)

All right, so it’s not autumn yet. Not ’till tomorrow… But there are goodbyes to be said, and this poem popped into my head as a suitable set of words to describe my current mood.

I got laid off yesterday, and am now on what some companies refer to as “garden leave“. I’ve loved working in my old company, but I’ve also for quite some time been looking for a new job, so it’s a melancholy feeling, mixed with a sense of relief. It’s definitely not all bad, though of course it’s certainly not all good, either.

In short, it is what it is.

It was all very civilised, as these things should be, so I guess it qualifies for the term “amicable divorce”; I shall be missed and I shall miss my old colleagues, but such is life.

So next week I will be gardening! On garden leave. Maybe this means that this year I can actually get the garden ready for winter? -Something I failed miserably at last year, partly due to business and partly due to wet weather in the few weekends I made it up to the garden, and which had knock-on effects that lasted well into spring.

The lawn needs mowing, the annex (with the storage room, the workshop/shed and the spare bedroom) needs painting and of course a good weeding is never amiss, so I can definitely keep myself busy while I begin to work out what I want to do besides gardening.

Autumn is the time when you look back and see what worked and what didn’t work; which plants were stars and which were failures; what do you want more of, what do you want less of (SLUGS!); what should be played a bit different, tweaked a little, next year. And so I will begin looking at the garden and my CV with the same set of analysing eyes, seeing what I enjoyed and what I didn’t and then taking it from there. After all, in a garden there is always that much-vaunted term “Next Year”, and the same goes for work. There will be another chance at creating something that will be even better, even more satisfying, even more life-enhancing.

(I hope.)

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