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A constantly curious and melancholic wanderer...

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Kitchen Garden (and the general sense of a loss of magic in the world)

My name is Autumn Leave.  I am an investigative journalist working for The Alternative News and Interesting Facts Daily.  I have been working for them for the last 20 years.  I used to cover cutting edge investigative cases such as truth about toothpaste and other everyday products we use, a study determining how many people yawn when they see other people yawn, and investigating why squirrels forget where they put their nuts 50% of the time. But in recent years, as I have moved closer to a retirement age I have been moved to the Obituary and Melancholic Memories section of the paper.

My writing has lost a bit of magic, they told me. I guess it has a lot to do with dealing with everyday life.  People don’t give me a lot of reason to believe in any magic or wonder or true beauty.  If you look around you, most of the time you see the opposite of that.  People say that I am a sceptic and a pessimist, but I just think I am realistic and logical – qualities I thought made me good at my job.  But I was assigned to the very last page of the newspaper.

That is until now.  I was requested for a specific article – investigative in nature called “The healing aspects of a Kitchen Garden relating to the layout and type of plants in the garden. This might not sound very interesting to you, but kitchen gardens have resurfaced in the last few months as a major topic of discussion after the Potager Phenomena of Basil Brown.  

She claims to have made some extraordinary discoveries while working in her kitchen garden.  Basil Brown suffers from an acute type of depression and paranoia, mixed with an extreme phobia of crawling insects.  

In the last few years, it affected her so much that she hardly ever left her home.  The technology of today makes staying at home much easier than in the olden days, with online shopping and chat rooms designed for specific groups of people.  She was quite content with having no contact with the outside world except for one very old and reliable exterminator who she met online on a site for “The frequently disheartened and doubtful of mind”.

John Cricket was as disheartened and doubtful as Basil in his younger days, but was able to overcome some of his sadness and loss of confidence and trust in the world, by focussing all of these emotions on killing bugs.  It was a known fact that many people with this specific mixture of depression and paranoia went hand in hand with a fear of crawling insects.  Mr Cricket therefore had a full-time job as a counselling exterminator.  He was well-known as the best in his line of work.  He would usually visit a person on a weekly basis, but some severe phobias required fumigating up to three times a week. 
It was Mr Cricket who told Basil Brown about some of the pest-repelling benefits of many plants and herbs and who suggested that she designs a kitchen garden or potager as known in French circles.  

Basil Brown started putting all her time into creating the perfect potager.  She researched everything thoroughly and spent days planning her design and structure.  In the end she decided on 5 specific plants to use and she would plant them in a specific way that made a lot of sense to her. 
She planted a Basil plant in the middle her little garden.  Basil was a known repellent of the Asparagus beetle.  This plant would represent her off course, carrying the same name and with a smell that she really found very comforting. 

She then planted two Venus Fly-traps and two Pitcher Plants to act as guards, trapping and digesting any insect that would come close to her special basil plant in the middle.  She then added some decorations in the form of Petunias – beautiful, but deadly to a variety of beetles, leafhoppers and some other crawling bugs.  Lastly she scattered Catnip all over the little garden, in between the rest of the plants to repel ants, a selection of beetles, including the colourful Japanese beetle and then of course Basil’s biggest fear – cockroaches.  

She attended to her garden on a daily basis, staying outside the house for longer periods of time.  Her garden started growing and blooming and becoming more beautiful to her every day.  She started inviting some people over – other disheartened and doubtful people who were not as confined to their homes as she was.  The therapeutic effects of the garden soon became very evident to Basil and her friends that visited felt an immense change in their mood and general sense of trust in the world, while in the garden.  They also realized the longer they stayed in it, the longer their new-found cheerfulness lasted.  Quoting Basil Brown”  “It is as if our hearts have been touched by some sort of magical power inside the garden.”

Now, many other people have kitchen gardens, myself included and even though there is some therapeutic value in being in a garden for some people, nobody else have claimed to experience the amount of happiness in their gardens that Basil and her friends experienced.  If there was any truth in this, you could deduct that it had to be the specific selection of plants she used as well as the very specific way in which she planted it.  

My assignment is to find out whether there is any truth in this story, to interview Basil and spend some time in her garden.  I am the only journalist she agreed to talk to – as she previously only read the Obituary and other Melancholic Memories section of the newspaper and therefore knew my name.  

This is a really big opportunity for me.  It will be my last chance to prove people wrong and show them that there is no more magic left in the world and that you can a sort of contentment in accepting what is real instead of longing for something more.  So today, I will expose Basil and her silly depression club and tell the truth.  That a bunch of nutty people have a sort of mad-hatters party in a kitchen garden once a week and that they probably all are as much on a trip as Lewis Carol when he wrote Alice in Wonderland.  

I knock on the the door…

*Story inspired by a very interesting topic: "The Kitchen Garden" for my monthly writers group.  You can read more about a kitchen garden over here.

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