Autumn back to Spring

Even when lost in the hills behind Weingarten (Baden) natures pallette delights the solitary gardener.

German vegetable gardens – much like those in Australia – have been quietly fading away in the thirty years that this Aussie gardener has been trekking halfway around the globe on our annual pilgrimage to Baden-Württemberg to catch up with the German cook’s family. The economies of self-help have given way in both countries to the convenience of supermarkets and small garden plots have given way to lawn and leisure.

Yet the sun shone in southern Germany through October and early November, and while the cook cooked for the oldies, the gardener drifted through the countryside on an old bicycle that spends 11 months of each year in the garage. Once the main meal of the day had been eaten at lunchtime, the cook could put her feet up while the gardener cleaned up the kitchen and dining room.

Having been raised on German fairytales by the Brothers Grimm, living in an attic in Europe seems like a dream come true to an Australian used to wide horizons and Christmas in the middle of summer. Here below my attic window is the only working vegetable garden in all these rows of houses, in the backyard of Opa and Oma, who've passed their thrifty ways along to their daughter and Australian son-in-law. 

But every arrival is followed somewhere by a  departure, and just as the days shortened markedly, the trees lost their wondrously coloured leaves, the skies turned gray and the temperature fell through the floor, it was time once more fly the 16,000 kms (10,000 miles) home from Europe to our other life in southern Australia.


Spring rains and a five week absence have turned order in the veggie patch into jungle while a stiff dose of jet-lag makes any decision-making an effort. But I’d better hurry – next Thursday marks the beginning of the Australian summer,and I’ve got all sorts of crops now months behind schedule.

Ah well! – we’re both enjoying the Spring sunshine and the long hours of daylight that Nature and Qantas have delivered to us, as if to keep at least one garden somewhere in production…


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