from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Roselle Angwin 2008 – earth 1

Two days of gentle sun. You can hear the earth creaking back into active being. At the top of the field already the hawthorn leaves are out, and we gathered our first crop of wild garlic today.

More, we actually did some work on the veg plot, until recently saturated. The garlic's come through strongly, and almost all the onions we planted in the autumn, too. At last I got my winter-planting broad beans in, after TM had barrowed a few loads of lovely friable compost up the steep field.

At long last the purple sprouting is – well, sprouting. In recent years we've put in three varieties: a very early one that fruits in July or August, another that comes through in November or December, and the third in spring. Last year, almost all our sowings were obliterated by slugs, and even our leeks are still pencil-thin. TM finds it most ignominious that I am talking about getting a Riverford organic veg box each week to tide us over the 'hungry gap'.

Talking of Riverford, we had perhaps the best lunch I've ever had at their field kitchen near Dartington today. I'd never been there before, and it's booked up weeks in advance. You're seated at long shared tables, and it's a set menu (luckily with a veggie option) of their own organic produce, imaginatively cooked and plentiful, with huge bowls passed around the table. (I won't even start to speak of the puddings.)

The guy I was sitting next to turned out to be a painter and sculptor. He had a portfolio with him – exquisite abstracts, rooted in landscape, in deep warm vibrant colours. He paints entirely in earth pigments that he collects locally to him (in Cornwall, with some forays into Devon and Cornwall). Oh, and soot. Ditto.

I too have collected earth pigments for painting, from the coasts here and also from Southwest France – the same pigments that our prehistoric ancestors used in their awe-inspiring (to me, anyway) cave art. Once TM put himself in grave danger stepping out onto a cliff near Golden Cap in Dorset, 100s of metres above the sea and crumbling, to bring me back a handful of lovely burnt sienna soil when we were first together (comment from TM: 'Factual inaccuracy. It wasn't Golden Cap; wrong county. It was between Branscombe and Beer, the Devon side of the border, and it wasn't HUNDREDS of metres, but maybe 100 or so.'). Whatever, I haven't found the range of shades Huw had. The painting of mine at the top includes some, but I have also used bought Prussian blue and white paints in it. (It's tiny, in reality; I can't help feeling it needs to be massive, maybe a metre squared.)

This one is also mostly earth pigments:

Roselle Angwin 2008 - earth 2

Later, back in our little orchard in the dimpsey, with the half moon rising, we collected up all the apple tree prunings, perhaps for kindling, as one of the local buzzards cruised overhead.

The wind dropped, as it does so often at twilight, and above the brook's chatter the jackdaws and rooks started up their great noisy pre-roosting flypast.

I love swinging the axe and splitting logs. (It's a wonderful counterpoint, too, to so much time spent on my computer – I now keep it off from Saturday evening to Sunday evening, mostly; sometimes all weekend, even.) Just as I split the last log two owls began hooting close by, with a third yipping somewhere off in the trees. Venus slowly glimmered into life alongside the moon. Now dusk releases bosky scents from the valley (or we smell them better when the visual sense is eclipsed a little in duskiness) – the earth smells as if she's properly waking.


  1. Your paintings are beautiful - what a huge talent you have! I've tried and tried to grow veggies but almost always they get decimated by slugs or drowned. This year my cauliflowers are about 2 inches diameter and my leeks look like spring onions. So I get most of my veggies from Riverford which seems the next best thing as I know they're organic and come from good producers. I'd love to eat at the Field Kitchen but it's much too far away for us - it sounds exactly like I imagined.

  2. Thank you, Angie! :-). Yes - even Riverford had a poor harvest last year with all the rain. At least you HAVE some cauliflowers!

  3. Wow - these are terrific! I didn't know you painted, so of course I had to go looking for more and found them over at Fire in the Head. Wonderful!

  4. David - once again - big thanks. You've been so affirmative.


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