Suddenly – no, slowly, a feeling of contentment.

 

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Joy does suddenly, grabs you by the throat and shakes you. Depression lives like a beggar on your threshold so you have to step over it whatever you do; but contentment steals over you slowly so that the realisation dawns that you’ve actually been there some time. I was in the kitchen this morning making a coffee and mulling over the meaning of a word like ‘culture’ which means so much more than a poetry reading or a picture in a gallery, and as I looked around me and saw all our produce – some fresh, some in various stages of preservation, some needing attention today; it came into my mind that this season, above all others, gives space for contentment. Freed, as we have been from the constant worry over water logging, frost and snow in winter; urgent preparation of beds during the very late spring and the fiendish treadmill of watering during this summer’s drought, now it’s all comng together for a brief season when we’re eating the best there is, there’s time to consider and relish the cooking and eating of our produce and we’ve the time to relish it all and even contemplate a few days away. We booked three nights away in Rhandyrmwyn yesterday afternoon.

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If you see culture as something that arises from our relationship with the earth and the seasons and only later developed into the forms we glibly use the term for, then it’s more clear that what begins in soil and seed and manual work, issues forth – in flowers – in cooking, song and story. The primitive is the seed for the whole plant, and the raw material of our whole way of life is there in the texture and smell of soil, hope and hard work. Our pseudo culture with all its artisan this-and-that is the factory processed poison that’s fed back to us by the greedy and perverse system that would rather regard us as intensively reared cattle.

 

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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