I have sprouts! Two of the five tomatoes have sprouted, and the thyme seems to be coming up as well. The grow lights are on and as always, I’m weirdly surprised that seeds actually sprout.
While avoiding war coverage last night, I stumbled across a rerun of my new favorite show, Ground Force, on BBC America.The conceit of Ground Force is that loved ones write in requesting a surprise garden makeover for someone, the show gets the recipient out of town for a weekend, and makes over their garden. So imagine my surprise when flipping channels to discover that they flew to South Africa and made over Nelson Mandela’s garden!
It was so astonishing. Apparently, for the millenium, BBC asked them if they could do anyone’s garden, whose would they do? And they chose Nelson Mandela — he’d just built a new house, and there was no garden outside his office. The team was very clear, they wanted a lovely space outside his office, where he could see plants, and a water feature (using the millstone upon which his mother milled corn), and have a space to walk around, and to sit. There was a really touching segment on Robben Island, where apparently Mandela convinced the jailors to allow the prisoners to grow a small vegetable plot, and this was one of the things that kept his spirits up during the twenty-seven years that he was imprisoned there. So these three cheerful gardeners descended on his new house, and with much reverence and awe, built a lovely garden for Mandela. Who loved it. Who gently chastised his wife for tricking him saying “We agreed that we would have no secrets.” She hugged his head and said that the secret just made the surprise more joyful. I was all weepy.
It cheered me up in light of this current war, and the terrifying assault on civil rights, to remember that it was only in 1990 that Mandela was freed, and to remember the many many years during which it seemed he would never be free, that Nelson Mandela’s freedom was too much to hope for, that apartheid would never crumble. And to think about how strange that seems now. And how even though there is this enormous cloud of darkness, Nelson Mandela is free, and has a beautiful garden in which to formulate the words that may help us all to see that freedom is the only way.