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  • Helen Tyrrell

What Gives?


I spent last weekend harvesting fruit - relieving our slender crab apple and quince trees of their burden, picking the final green tomatoes for chutney, and raking over the raised vegetable beds for new seeds.


It would be a lie to say I am reaping the rewards of my labours. The truth is that nature does all the work, with little effort from me. My labours begin with the harvest and not before. I always need to clear some time, gather bottles and jars, and spend long afternoons in a hot, sticky mess of patiently trying to reach gel point. The alchemical magic of transforming bitter fruit into golden jellies and rich chutneys is where my work is cut out, and the results are my harvest. It doesn’t always go to plan, and sometimes I have to take a risk and try something new, but, as the adage goes, ‘no risk, no reward’. It might be frustrating, but it’s not wasted, just grist to the mill for next year, when it might go better.


It's made me think about other harvests, the ones we get from the energetic seeds we have planted in our life, and how they work out. It’s hard to predict how a seed will grow, and when. Some tiny seeds, or those we planted long ago, can sometimes spring up in the most surprising fashion when they are ready. However slim or abundant the crop, we are always reaping something.


Has anything yielded fruit for you lately? Maybe some small or forgotten seeds are coming up? Which ones bring you the most joy? It’s worth spending some time with this question. If something brings you joy, it is a yield, and a mighty good one in my book. If you can’t think of anything, try writing some long-hand ‘stream of consciousness’ notes with the starter sentence, ‘what brings me joy is….’. The key is to not judge, just write, and set a timer for five minutes. There is no need even to re-read your notes. Just notice what comes up, then notice and appreciate the seeds you once planted to get that amazing yield.


For me, just now, it’s all about art. Or more accurately, art and friends. Many years after stepping away from being a ‘serious’ artist, my artwork is suddenly bringing me more joy than I can remember. It may be a single strand in a hybrid life, but it is flowing in a fresh, new way, one that feeds the other areas too. My most recent artwork is an album cover for a musician friend – a dream gig for an artist. I’ll share it when it comes out, of course, but in this and other recent collaborations with creative friends, I find that I’m working in a new, lighter, way that I love, and which works for me. That is a harvest!


Unlike with the jellies and chutneys. I don’t feel I need to do anything with this harvest except enjoy it, make more art, plant more seeds and remember that nothing is ever ‘wasted’ despite how it may look or feel at the time. Periods of dormancy are entirely natural: they are needed for deep underground germination. Time and compost all feed in, and many of the finest seeds are slow growing.


So my mantra for this month’s newsletter is keep planting, keep watching for what is coming up, with patience and tolerance, and don’t forget to nurture the growth that really feeds you. Who knows what it will yield and when.

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