Who cares about the allotments? Who grows organic fruit and vegetables for the family? Who loves the place?
IVAN… Today he is taking two granddaughters up there….
“What did you grow in your garden when you were a little boy? ” asked
“It’s a long list!” said Ivan.
“Tell us!” they both asked.
“My mother and father were wonderful gardeners.” began Ivan.
“We had a huge garden. Everyone did, in the village. I suppose here,
you would call them smallholdings. Every garden had at least one cherry
tree and in the spring, the village was a mass of blossom. We had apple trees and pear trees as well and my parents grew corn on the cob, lettuces, radishes, carrots, squashes, pumpkins and beetroot. Then there was red cabbage, fennel and gherkins. Oh! And we picked wild mushrooms in the fields and woods, but you had to know what you were picking or you could be poisoned.
My grandmother had a vine in her garden, which grew wonderful red
grapes and my parents grew raspberries and strawberries, nectarines and peaches and they had an old fig tree, and two plum trees.”
“Didn’t you miss it when you came here?” asked Suzannah.
“Terribly.” said Ivan, “But we were grateful to be alive and free and to
have freedom of speech. We rented a little house which had some garden, but not much and I know that your grandmother missed picking all her own fruit and vegetables.
Then, someone at work told me about the allotments. It was one of the
best days of my life. We had to put our name down on a list and wait for one, but it didn’t take long, and when we came up here and saw the view and smelled the fresh air, and found other people who liked growing things, we were so happy.
Your grandmother used always to sing, when she was happy. She still
does, but that first day up here, she sang like a lark. We stayed late, after everyone had gone home and we danced! Your grandma took the pins out of her hair and shook her head so that her hair streamed out and she span round and round, her arms reaching out, as if she personified freedom.
It was as if everything that had been locked up in her had been freed and as the sun went down and the stars came out, I took her in my arms and we danced.”
He looked ecstatic for a moment, then his face crumpled.
“What’s the matter, Grandpa?” asked Ruth, “You and Grandma can still
come up here and dance.”
“No!” he said.
“Why not?” asked Ruth.
Where The Fox Goes © J.R.Birch 2004