Mulching (538)

by Max Akroyd

Any sort of slightly calm day, among the mad dog days of December, sees me scurry out to the field with a mallet, some giant staples and a large roll of plastic. It must appear to the (distant) neighbours like the work of an unhinged landscape artist. But the grid of long, narrow beds lain across our acres is my bridge from here (reliant upon supermarkets) to there (self-reliant). They’re almost complete, one last push before Christmas and the foundations will be in…

It’s a strange endeavour in the sense that there’s no compulsion (yet) to live this way. The way in which no one can see how old your clothes are because you’re always covered in mud. Instead, I could work in the local fish factory, get a wage and exchange it for food someone else has produced for their wage. Sometimes, when the rain is running down the wrong side of my trousers, that seems a very rational and desirable arrangement. Sometimes around here you can feel like a cork bobbing about in a vast sea of elemental nature. You inhabit a perpetual backwater, bypassed by events.

But usually the ancient ‘need food, grow food’ mental imperative prevails if you let it, and satisfying that primordial equation, along with daily contact with animals and plants, is sufficient in a way earning a wage never was. I guess it’s the difference between the expression of something woven into our genes and something alien lodged like shrapnel in the psyche.