New hope swells

Sunrise over Broadleaze small SWM

Photo by Roger Fanner ( http://www.rogerfanner.co.za/ )

By Rob Symons

This is an article I wrote for the Mercury Food and Wine supplement and it also appears in “Verdant Life“.

It has been reported that that this September has shown the highest temperatures recorded globally since 1880, when records began.

This winter has certainly been a harbinger of future climate chaos. For us at Broadleaze Farm it has been a hard winter. It has been one of the driest on record where even some aloes had begun to die.

The wildlife suffered as they could not migrate due to fences, and in consequence we found our irrigated crops overwhelmed by hungry animals.

On top of all this were the fires. The dry and hot conditions were perfect for bush fires. No amount of fire-break maintenance could save the hayfields and forests.

Winter brought other problems such as our municipality trying to discourage agricultural rates rebates in a short-sighted attempt to boost its revenue.

The cost of inputs such as fuel and labour seemed to be on an inexorable upward slope.

After all this doom and gloom what does Spring portend for us?

The other day I took a walk out to the herb garden in the fine drizzle to pick a bunch of mint.

For the first time my senses were overwhelmed by an aura of greenness. The colour green was very much in evidence, but there was something else. A sense of vitality and growth, both subtle and potent, filled my consciousness.

It was life resurgent, full of promise and hope.

The mint was luscious and fragrant. The stand of tarragon that I had desperately nursed through winter now looked rampant. There was a moist velvet feel to the air and I had the strong feeling of life drinking in the precious water.

The promise of spring is awesome in its unfolding potential of unfurling buds, and of seeds springing to life.

Somehow the travails of winter pale into insignificance as a new hope swells.

Farm routine is now dominated by the imperative to plant and sow. As the grasslands blush with green the wildlife are blessed with plenty, the fields are given a reprieve.

The duiker and reedbuck almost seem to feel the same hope as they move with a certain lightness to their gait. The dam still needs to fill – the rainfall so far is not nearly enough. The municipal woes are still there. Costs have not come down. But somehow everything looks and feels brighter.

Plans are being laid – the anticipation of harvest is infectious and somehow the hard labour is rendered easy. This is how spring should be celebrated, with hope and joy, and anticipation of a bountiful future.

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About Rob Symons

My name is Rob Symons. I live in Pietermaritzburg, kwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. MuthiMuthi is my Zulu nickname which means tall tree. I am an Organic Farmer and an environmentalist. I live and work on Broadleaze Farm in the Mkondeni valley on the eastern outskirts of Pietermaritzburg.
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