I was delighted this week to be contacted by Ruth Snowden, who wrote to tell me about her garden, 400 feet up above the Irish Sea in windswept, rainswept Cumbria. “Unsurprisingly heathers do very well, and the bees love them”.
“There are three ponds, with Frogs and newts, lots of bird feeders, a wild jungle, a wildflower patch with orchids and Cowslips...and lots of exciting little paths to explore. We back onto a wood, so we get native Red Squirrels who come for hazel nuts, and also Roe Deer, Hedgehogs and owls.
What’s more, Ruth’s daughter is a childminder and brings little ones to visit when the weather is fine. Together, they do nature and gardening related stuff and they all call Ruth ‘Granny’. “The children love it, and I am so pleased I can show them the small, important things and help in a quiet way.”
I love Ruth’s desire to connect people with nature through Granny’s Garden. My own passion for wildlife gardening and birdsong and all the writing and talks I do about it are, in large part, for this reason. Our gardens are places where we can have some of our most intimate and inspiring encounters with living things, right outside our door, and birdsong seems to reach somewhere deep inside us, a half-understood language that can touch us deeply.
In today’s frantic, technological world, and at this critical point when we, the human race, decide how we are going to treat this planet, these things seem exactly what we all need.
So, I was further delighted to find out through Ruth’s blog that she is a writer and artist as well as granny. Some of her poems seemed so pertinent to this blog, and such a perfect way of expressing a love for gardens and wildlife and the world, that I asked Ruth if I might publish them here. In fact, I can’t believe I haven’t included any poems here before.
So here, just for you, Ruth’s poem about a childhood experience of being 'in the moment' with a dragonfly, plus one of her beautiful sketches, but first a poem about…no, I’ll let you discover what it is about for yourself! Enjoy.
This is my mother in the potato patch, her wellies weighted with mud; digging the ground, and carefully sorting earthy tubers from tangled roots; letting loose soil sift through her hands to join discarded leaves in the slow cycle of compost making.
This is my mother digging the earth where the grandmothers lie; and it was always so - she and she and she; back and back and back their voices whisper across the web of time; light as the waft of breeze that stirs the first fall - and this is my mother this earth.
I crouch in dappled apple shade by the water trough, where thin grey larvae hang on the surface between the worlds.
Suddenly she is there, suspended on stillness - a fierce fanged, whirring killer straight from the forest of amber. Her sparkling flash of flight so close, I feel the caress of her downdraught and everything is perfect, and all time is now.
If you’d like to see more of Ruth’s work, a great place to start is her lovely Facebook blog here.
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