A hollyhocks war

A woman stood in front of my window. She seemed to be peering into the living room. Ours is a busy urban street, a tram stop across the road, a petrol station, cars speeding by, people rushing past on their way to the beach. No one lingers. I would like them to, at some point,…

No-thinning gardening

It has been a strange spring – sunny, very dry and remarkably chilly. We had our first frosts of the year in mid-April. I sowed compulsively at the end of March and first half of April, the worst and scariest of the quarantine. Very little of that came up. I had to go over the…

Quarantine, one seed at a time

“Now that we spend so much time at home…” – was the only acknowledgement of the current situation in the second episode of 2020 Gardeners’ World last week. Indeed, what more can we possibly say? Who could have thought this was possible? Who could have thought there could be so much time for stay-home gardening…

A Northernmost Sketch

It is 8.30am, the official sunrise at 78˚ degrees northern latitude. But it has been light for nearly two hours. This far into the Arctic circle, in late February, the sun lingers just beneath the horizon, its rays reflected by snow-capped ridges and low clouds. A long, unhurried dawn. The polar night finished just over…

January

We are in mid-winter, the season of death and dying behind us. This year, I did not take notice of the nature’s dying, focused as I was on the nature of human death. Shattered, fragmented, turned upside down, inside out and ultimately inwards by my mother’s passing away in September. Now it is just stillness.…

On beets and roots

The greatest vegetable of all times (don’t tell the tomatoes) Nothing says Eastern Europe to me as this one single vegetable. The Dutch learn to cycle before they walk, we eat borscht before we develop teeth. Scrumptious, delicious, versatile, beetroot is completely underestimated and underused here in the West. People seem actually scared of it,…

A year of tomatoes

2019 will be known as a year of tomatoes in our household. Tomatoes galore, tomato extravaganza. A trial by tomatoes. It started innocently enough, way back in February, and according to the book: we equipped ourselves with the Ikea’s Vaxer growing kit – complete with germination trays and a special potting mix – and bought…

An enchanted grove

This place was part of my life for only one summer, many years ago, yet I remember it well. I was seven years old, a thoroughly urban child, and my mother took me to a friend’s cottage in the countryside for a month. It was a wet August, but the rains came mostly at night…