Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Stewardship


We rent our house. It doesn't feel too precarious given our landlady is a farmer, who on the whole are pretty stable people. But it isn't 'ours'.

Over the past few years I have steadily worked the garden, turning it from a brambled thrash of nettles into a fruit, veg and flower welding space fit for humans, birds, butterflies and bees. Mainly I've been given plants, or found ones growing under their own direction - like the snapdragons and foxgloves above. I'll buy the veg seed, but reap the investment within months with those.

It wasn't until I decided to pay someone to install a rabbit proof fence earlier this year (and boy has it been brilliant) that the temporary nature of the garden really hit me: spend all that money and we could be asked to leave in a couple of years. Renting brings home the notion of us as stewards of the land. And here, on the coast, even more so. I've talked before of the twenty year protection plan the Environment Agency has promised for the seawall. If they keep to their promise (which I'm not confident of), in another thirty there could be no garden here, maybe an undermined house.

So I face working for a present and a short-term future environment. Anything beyond is unknown. As it is in most cases, except we fool ourselves with notions of 'freehold tenancies' and 'in perpetuity'. And it infiltrates my thinking and aspirations. It can stymy would-be projects but knowing I can't commit to a wallpapering, new cooker, sunlounge-future is also liberating. We are restricted on what and how much we spend on 'improving' the place. Whatever or whoever happens to the garden there are plenty of creatures benefiting from my work now, as well as my own mental health.

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