View from the front door

Am I a little obsessed with The Garden Celebrating an Imperfect Universe? You bet!  Am I excessively fond of autumn? You bet! So please, just accept this photo, a sort of season-of-mists-and-mellow-fruitfulness photo, which looks down the axis towards where it is all happening. Imagine a jet of water marking the centre of the axis. And imagine it falling down, not into a random collection of rocks and stones as it was going to do, but into a model of the perfect universe; or perhaps more correctly, a maquette of the imperfect one. The plan is that the spiral design will be repeated in the placement of the rocks, with a simple copper pipe spiral representing the chute of the fountain below. I’m sure that, even if you have been following all my plans, you are a little confused,. Bear with me, please! In time all will hopefully become clear.

On auction at bidorbuy I have acquired this bugle for R300 – that is about US$45 – which is to form the ‘Celestial Trumpet’ from which the water in the chute first appears. Meanwhile the concept has grown; a sort of African symbolism has been added: a brazier of red  ‘coals’ will add the element of fire to the source… bugle 1

What is more I have bought a small brass abacus, a trinket really, but somehow it will make its way into the design as a symbol of Eastern mathematics and the wide foundation our understanding of the universe has. And meanwhile the wattle wall has been completed.

Monty studies autumn

After a long day followed by a walk through the garden, I was sitting late this afternoon, looking out across the lawn towards the big gum  and the autumn shades. I had been in charge this morning of the hosting by our  Rotary Club of the final round of a substantial regional public speaking competition for eleventh graders, where the prize is a six week short term Rotary Exchange overseas. Always it is a humbling experience, for the young are so articulate, so passionate and so optimistic. There is an additional element which non-South Africans will understand only with difficulty. Ten years ago we were amazed at how well black students were doing, how well they spoke English, how obviously they were of a new dispensation. Now we take it for granted. And instead my thoughts today were of the many hundreds of thousands of children, still locked into rural poverty and bleakness, who could also achieve at the level these children were achieving.

4 Woolly necked stork 3

It was growing dark. Suddenly five birds flew into view, circled and settled into the huge gum tree for the night. I knew they were Woolly-necked Storks, for during this last summer we have gone from seeing them occasionally to having a resident family from a nest on my neighbours’ farm. But I had never seen them coming in to roost before, nor so many – and they had chosen my tree! So moved was I that for the first time in over thirty years I attempted poetry. I hope that in the cold light of day I do not regret sharing it with you…

See more about them at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woolly-necked_Stork 

woolly necked storks 2 Woolly necked storks 1

                         Four pictures of Woolly-Necked Storks off the web


Could I capture the grace –

Or the size (how can such a small bird

Be so big?) Or the silence

As in darkening dusk

They swooped in, squabbled

About roosts, took off,

Returned, always graceful,

Turning on outspread wings,

Silently observing, choosing a spot, silently landing –

Could I really still see their movement

As the dusk darkened, hear

Their silence as the fluting

Of reed frogs , even the sound

Of the grass growing, the neatly

Trimmed lawn in the foreground, was

That wind in the gums behind them, yes,

There was movement in the uppermost

Leaves of the towering gum

They were roosting in, dark now

Against the darkness, roosting

In my tree, would they return, had they

Been here before, they had come

So unexpectedly in the gathering

Dusk, five at first, perhaps two more

Later, swooping in, silently, arching wings and backs,

Dropping long legs, braking, circling, perching,

Disappearing in the dark, all but their

White necks


In the dark

Would they come again?

Had they been before?

These silent graceful creatures

In a silent graceful dusk

Unexpected symbols

Of silence, perfection, grace

On a perfect eve

As summer


Into autumn.

           Jack Holloway 16/4/2011


7 thoughts on “A GARDEN, A POEM, AUTUMN

  1. Autumn is my favorite season, I just love it. And for me, now is the time to start planting for it. I garden almost exclusively for fall (but without bugles).

    • Every year I promise myself there will be more planning for the fall – the colours of foreground flowers as the trees turn can make such a difference… if I think of the pleasure my now scraggly zinnias in the foreground give me, imagine what autumnal tints and soft yellows could do…

  2. Jack, The more I read about The Garden Celebrating an Imperfect Universe, the more I love it. Today, I found myself looking at your page of accommodations and rates and thinking about visiting — maybe after I retire. Meanwhile, I am going to enjoy watching this new garden develop.

  3. Pingback: SUN AT DAWN AND STORKS AT DUSK « Sequoia Gardens Blog

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