Samhain: Listening to your ghosts

After a glorious summer, full of fresh air and bright late nights, Aotearoa puts another blanket on the bed and gets ready for winter.

And so it’s samhain (southern hemisphere). The end of one year and the start of a new one. Time to reflect and contemplate, dream and plan, make sparkles in the dark, have cosy chats with friends, and spend time listening to your ghosts.

My garden learning this year is that marigolds get rid of those pesky passion-fruit vine hoppers. After pruning and destroying the dead wood, my plan is to plant marigolds all through my garden to keep the pests at bay. Plus, I’m going to finally clear and plant up the last weed-ridden garden bed and get it ready for spring. I’ve finally decided I want it to be herbs and vines. I have a massive heap of compost to feed it and a box of seeds ready to go. Exciting.

Last year I realised I really did need to water my plants more, everyone complains about Wellington weather, but actually it’s hot and dry most of the year, so I made much more of an effort this year and it paid off. I grew the most delicious cucumbers and carrots. Cucumber hang all fat and green from these curly little vines. They look as gorgeous as they taste. But despite the added water there were other unexpected issues, the vine hoppers and the comfrey. My friend gave me a very small comfrey plant, so I popped in the veggie bed. Now I know just how big comfrey grows. It’s fabulous but it took over a quarter of my veggie patch and stopped my peas and melon from growing well, so that’s moving to the new herb and healing plant bed.

In my writing world I had a very hard year. I had a burst of activity in the winter and spring. I had a story printed in a zine, and I submitted a heap of stories to various publications. I had a few rejection letters which asked me to resubmit (which is good), and I was short-listed for another competition (which is great), but all that hit me like the vine-hoppers hit my garden and I just stopped writing. The rejection quietly gnawed away at me from the inside. Writing felt pointless and felt like work and I unconsciously decided I’d rather play instead. Which is never a bad thing. Play is good. Except I played on my mountain bike and not with my writing.

But this was a big yes! On my bike, my goal was to learn to jump, and I did. I built the skill up. Small wee jumps that have got higher and higher. This new skills has changed the way I approach trails and made riding even more fun. I also gave up the gym this year and used my riding as my exercise, so I’ve spent so much time riding and outdoors. I love it. I’m going to keep riding, no plans to change that, but as samhain was on its way, I figured I needed to face my writing demons, and it’s always best to go demon-hunting with friends. So, after a good idea from a friend, my writing group is now meeting one evening a week (online) and we are spending two-hours doing writing exercises and getting back into regular scribbling. If these 2 hours a week is all I do for the next year, then that is both beautiful and enough. Plus it’s lovely to meet the others regularly and hang out doing something we all love. But if my writing is anything like my garden, I know 2 hours a week will make a big difference overall. I’ll find out by next samhain.

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