Lockdown solace… our garden of plenty

Anita Bunn holds aloft produce from her garden.

Our planet has been begging us to slow down for many years, and like a recalcitrant child, we have ignored the signs, continuing the absurdities of modern living.

Suddenly, billions of people are forced to look at their lives with not a piece of clothing on… the naked truth has dawned on many with a resounding thud – the proverbial pink elephant in the room is right next to you on the couch, let alone in the middle of the room, and the couch is becoming a wee bit cramped.

Divorces will skyrocket, hunger will increase, domestic violence will become unmanageable, civil unrest may escalate, more babies than is ordinary will be born in 2021, and mother earth may lose a substantial number of her children…

Who knows the end result we are all skyrocketing towards, but one thing is sure: the seasons roll on as they have for millenia.

In the microcosm of my life, the change of seasons generally denotes a hectic time. Harvesting and preserving is now all important, and how wonderful to spend the lockdown in this idyllic pursuit with the one I love.

We have made chutney from our garden, which includes Kei apple, a beautiful fruit (indigenous to the Eastern Cape where I grew up), rhubarb to accompany the sourness of the Kei apple, fresh ginger and spices for the exotic side of the chutney, and just because we had to preserve our ample harvest of tomatoes, an obligatory and generous helping of green and red cherry tomatoes.

Add some sugar and apple cider vinegar, and our unique “lockdown chutney” saw the light of day.

Our mealies ran away from us; before we knew it we were inundated with cobs too hard to eat, but not too hard to subject them to a long cooking process.

Brilliant ideas are the result of ingenuity, and thus… placing the kernels in a slow cooker, resulted in plump and tasty delights just ideal for a homemade mielebread.

The rest we will freeze and use as a nutty component to winter stews, and whatever we can dream up.

Amidst all of this, the tumeric (which I planted four years ago) decided to put forth a flower as delicate and delightful as any newborn.We stood witnessing this miracle as if it was our first child; that pure sense of amazement and awe every parent experiences with the birth of their firstborn.

Meanwhile our animals are looking at us whimsically, wondering when this holiday will end.

Our home smells of pumpkin roasting in the oven, ready to be frozen; huge kale leaves fermenting under our bed, as that is the coolest place in the cottage.

And in the meantime we laugh at all the funny stories on WhatsApp, and we live in hope that we will learn and listen, fervently hoping that this virus will bring a lasting change in our wasteful ways.

And ultimately, we need to change our views on ornamental gardens, turning and working our soil to be productive – not just pretty to look at – and bring us to a new reality…