Volume 2, Issue vii
Wild Greens 2, no. 7 (May 2022)
Welcome to the May 2022 issue of Wild Greens
the root of pure love
by Douglas Hardman
splish splash crash what would you do if you woke up outside covered in dew?not really knowing the truth what transpired here?
little did i know watering my roots would bring about growthreal growth am i really changing for the better? brush my petals gently creeping through the meadow of wanton promisesi glided effortlessly into new territorystemming from my trepidationsemergence and resurgencethe sunlight finally felt like home
i didn’t dare wash the mud off my handsit held the key to my true destinychanting incantations of self-love and SSRI’si levitated into a new realmwelcomed with open arms that were just minethis time, self-isolation was helpful
After three days, the world saw me againRefreshed and exhaustedAn eternal rest to awaken the sporesHowever, I still kept to myselfUnsure how long this could lastBecause even if it doesThis is for me
A freshly shaved bulbA spunky new outlookMy green thumb finally put to good useSowing the seeds of positivityCould you even believeThis is me?20+ years of sunless pollinationI look in the mirrorAnd try to believeFrom now onI am going to truly see
by Tamsin Grainger
“One of the nicest things about gardening is the sudden surprise we may get when something that we arranged years ago comes into its own and is at last doing what we had intended to do.”
-Vita Sackville-West, celebrated gardener of Sissinghurst, England.
I am what they call a late bloomer! In 2016, aged 51, I took a break from a life that had somehow stopped being as fulfilling as it once was, and a whole new flourishing one opened up.
My beloved kids had left home; my ongoing complementary therapy work which I believed in didn’t seem to be flushing me with happiness any longer; and, despite my efforts, I hadn’t been in a relationship since my divorce many years before. I was more of a single English tea rose than a floribunda, a single blossom on my own stem, not one of a cluster. To make matters worse, I kept coming across reports which said that people on their deathbeds were full of regret, provoking me to lie awake at night and worry: ‘What if I die before I do what I have always wanted?’
The urge to have an adventure was getting stronger and stronger, and I was working with a therapist to let myself go, but responsibilities restrained d me like weeds stifling the vegetable patch. Then, one midsummer morning, I woke to a burst of clarity— I should go to Spain. That autumn I took a train all the way from Edinburgh to Portsmouth to visit my Great Aunty Fay who was 101 years old. When she was in her late 20s, she met Uncle Alan and went out to Gibraltar to marry him. I was shown a fabulous photo of her perched on the ship’s rail in a natty outfit, hair tucked up under a scarf to manage the sea breezes, her happily grinning face like a sweet briar. Perhaps she influenced me more than I thought, because that was my decision made — I boarded a boat that sailed me through the Bay of Biscay and all the way to Santander on the northern Spanish coast. Halfway there, I heard the clapping of a great whale’s tail cheering me on.
I had promised myself I would say “Yes!”, even though I didn’t know where I was going to stay or what route I would take; I had sat on the sofa long enough and the waiting was over. I didn’t feel brave, no; I just knew that to grow into the next 50 years of a life like my Great Aunt’s, I had to behave like a sweet pea, I simply had to wind my curls around any suitable stalk and follow my nature to thrive.
All through that sunshine journey with the brine at my nostrils, I was checking messages from Gill in Madrid who had kindly translated my offer of ‘Shiatsu in exchange for a bed’ and sent it out to her students and associates. I lay myself flat out on a deck chair, closed my eyes, and nurtured my seedling dreams. As we neared shore, the invite I needed came: an offer from Pilates instructor Rosa. That was to be my first experience of the kindness of strangers, and I think that was when my soul started to blossom.
Over the next month, it was a pleasure to sit at the tables of the effervescent women who hosted me. I wandered the orchards of Salinas in the west, and gardens of Egileor in the east, picking figs and photographing magenta bougainvillea. I marvelled at the sprouting broccoli and kale growing in every Galician front garden and basked in the Feria market where there were groaning tables of produce from the Basque mountains — olive green and magnolia squash, speckled and striped, and orange pumpkins the colour of the rising sun. The Iberian climate enriched me as if I was a poor, sandy soil in need of feeding.
And then it happened. I plucked up the courage for a long-distance walk.
Leaving Pamplona, city of setas mushrooms and syrupy honey and cinnamon desserts, I set out with my backpack, for all the world as if I was a teenager just finishing school. I didn’t look back until I arrived in Santiago. I started trekking by fields of burgeoning corn and scarlet peppers, and already felt fitter than I had for many years. On day two, I nibbled my first wild fennel, the aniseed taste erupting in my mouth, and I basked in the heat which seemed to caress my arms and neck. I was treated to oysters and sparkling Cava — bubbles around my heart — and the heady burgundy of Rioja grapes accompanied the attentions from a new lover. I was as happy as all the fields of sunflowers put together. As the year turned towards winter, the scent of rotting chestnut leaves and the fresh-air fragrance of eucalyptus heralded the completion of my long walk.
The French man who I met very early on, and who had escorted me every step of the way, left after a few delicious days in Finisterre, Spain’s Land’s End, and though I was sad to see him go, plans had already been laid. I had an idea to write an article and when I returned home a month later, the article prompted a workshop invitation. On the back of that came an offer to write a book and four years later it was published.
I had to cut back some dead wood to make way for the new shoots of course, which is always a challenge; however, my new sense of blossoming made it all worth it. Continuing to walk abroad, I explored Zagreb’s Gradski Park (Croatia) and Tartu’s Botanics (Estonia), I penned my sample chapter in the balmy walled garden of a Picardy convent (France) and sketched the geometric pools and plots of Porto’s Seralves art gallery (Portugal). Finding my way over Austria’s sacred mountains was a highlight. In a pattern of three months away and three in Scotland, I cheated the seasons by taking trains and buses across countries and borders, and I met the most wonderful people by always saying “Yes!” when they asked me to look after their horses and hens (Greece), or walk the dogs amongst the pomegranate trees of the Sierra Calderona (Spain).
My petals are a little more withered as I approach 61. Some of my tendrils droop, and I suffered a severe pruning during the Covid-19 pandemic, but I am, nevertheless, more of a rambling than an English tea rose these days, and I believe my scent is as sweet as a damask, now that I am fully, if rather lately, blooming.
Little Bud Big Bloom
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When We Bloom
by Tim BreyLike daylight enduring,Inspiration blinds me for a moment
Waking, I wonderIf there might be permanence hereOr If the night might bePermanent–here.
In forfeit,I sing
Bird of Paradise
The bluebell wood
by Jacqui Gray
In May, something special happens in British woodlands. Nature puts on a seasonal show so magical that visiting the woods to see it has become something of a British institution. The timing can vary, depending on the weather, so you have to be patient – as anyone who likes to follow the seasonal changes knows, nature cannot be hurried. Since I enjoy both nature and photography, I look forward to it for weeks beforehand, and it never fails to take my breath away.
As the time draws near, I scan the woodland near my home, searching for the first sign. For what seems like an age, there’s nothing unusual; the wood is quiet, giving little away. But, then, suddenly, I spot what I've been waiting for. In the leafy green understorey, another colour is emerging. At first, it's the softest haze, like a mirage. But I’m in no doubt: the bluebells are coming into bloom.
My pulse quickens, because I know that from now on, the colour will keep building. In a week or two, the seasonal spectacle will reach its climax, and when I return with my camera to spend a day under the leafy canopy, I will be surrounded by a knee-deep sea of blue-violet.
As blooming time peaks, I come back to the cool, green sanctuary of centuries-old oak trees. Hazy shivelights pierce the young foliage, scattering dappled shade. The woodland floor is springy, young ferns shooting up from it like spears, their coiled fronds the colour of podded peas. And stretching deep into the woodland, as far as my eyes can see, thousands upon thousands of bluebells that seem to hover above the ground, like morning mist.
The mist of deep blue-violet drifts around emerald-green ferns, each colour intensifying the other, so the whole wood seems to glow. Bluebells fragrance the air, a cool, green, earthy scent with a hint of floral that evokes for me a bygone age, when children played in woods, gathered berries and firewood and enjoyed the simple gifts of nature. And into this heady mix, wild garlic adds its starry white blooms and unmistakably pungent scent. All around me, the wood is unfurling, opening, pushing up, shaking free, its vernal energy rising, like the sap in the trees. A transformation is taking place and there’s a joy in the air that is palpable. I breathe out, my senses tingling, my mind soothed.
Crouching down, I take a close-up picture of a bluebell. These are native English bluebells, the type most often found growing in woodlands, and an indicator species of ancient woodland. Smaller and more delicate than the Spanish bluebell, they're recognisable by the way their flowers distinctively grow on only one side of the stem, causing the flower spikes to droop at the tip. Some of the country names by which they're known are charmingly old-fashioned – witches’-thimbles, lady's-nightcap, wild hyacinth, cuckoo's boots.
Bluebells reappear here every year, fresh and new, as though for the very first time. But they are ancient keepers of the past. They've grown in this little patch of woodland, and many others, probably for centuries, and have bloomed through countless springs, bluing woodlands for generations of families, country dwellers, and nature lovers to enjoy. Alongside the big, old oaks, the cool ferns, and the garlicky ramsons, they've been silent observers as history has unfolded, bearing witness while successive Kings and Queens reigned, scientific discoveries were made, wars were waged, and seismic social and political shifts took place. I ponder on this as I take a last look before leaving.
When I walk in the wood at bluebell time, I feel an invisible connection to nature. For a few hours, in this timeless place, I can step outside the modern world and glimpse something of how it might have been when we lived slower, simpler lives that were more in touch with the seasons, the land and the wild things that grow and bloom around us. The bluebell wood shares that with me. It lets me hear the pulse of spring. For me, it's where the season's beating heart is loudest.
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Seeds for Ukraine
by Saswat Kumar MishraWith your touch, I bloomedAnd you bloomed with mine.Unknowingly, both of us bloomedinto dandelions meant to beblown away by the wind.
See behind the scenes of Wild Greens. Our Ko-fi page contains concept art for past issues.
Artists and Contributors
Saswat Kumar Mishra
Poet and Artist
Poet and Artist
Poet & Music Editor
Susan Marie Radloff
Lauren Kimball (she/her) lives in Philadelphia. She teaches literature and composition at Rutgers University- New Brunswick. In her spare time, she plays with paint, digital pens, words, and home improvement tools.
You can find her comics on Instagram @turtle_n_hare_comic.
Lynne Marie Rosenberg
Myra Chappius (she/her) is the author of six works of fiction and poetry. While her passion lies with shorter creations, it is her aspiration to complete a full-length novel and screenplay someday. She enjoys reading, music, travel, and learning. When not doing mom things, she is working full-time, seeing the latest movie, or waiting an acceptable length of time before returning to Universal Orlando to satiate her Harry Potter obsession.
Hayley Boyle (she/her) creates the cover image for each issue of Wild Greens magazine and serves as the Arts Editor. Hayley is a social justice seeker, world traveler, rock climber, dog snuggler, frisbee player, event planner, and storyteller. She loves to paint with watercolors, embroider, and write. She grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy, and to this day she still turns to those genres to help her make sense of the world. She calls Philadelphia home and wouldn't have it any other way. You can find Hayley on Instagram @hayley3390 or @haypaints. She accepts commissions, and you can find examples of her work on her website.