Early spring 2022. I sit on a boulder, overlooking the shambles. I decide to not come up with a plan, waiting instead for answers to land at my feet, courtesy of the vast and ever-friendly universe. Because frankly, it’s a mess. The wall in the orchard has collapsed again. The underground cistern is empty too, so it must be leaking still.
Turns out that the cistern’s overflow has broken. The winter rains have flooded into the surrounding soil and the wall could no longer retain the water and heavy mud. This discovery threatens to tip Thomas into a sort of depression, but as weeks progress the world changes colour. The weather is glorious, the sky is blue, and the blossom is covered in bees. So, soon enough he is quite merrily working to repair the damage. I bring out picnic lunches and read books under a tree , looking up only to make approving sounds and admire the progress on the wall. My overexerted hands are still healing, so no heavy jobs for me.
SUDDENLY… A THUNDERSTORM
Then one day, we’re done and ready to start thinking about the irrigation of the orchard itself. We’re going for a combination of subsurface and under tree drip irrigation. We set out boldly, building on work we have done in winter, but soon find ourselves slowed down by the size of the orchard and the hardness of its soil. Thomas even has to make a special accessory for his excavator to dig small trenches. And of course, on the day we’re putting 400 metres of hose in to connect all the fruit trees, there’s a thunderstorm and we end up struggling in a giant mud pool.
But here we are, in the heat and drought of summer, and our new Reine Claude tree is bearing fruit. Our big dreams for the orchard are back. If this tiny new tree can make it back from the dead, surely the others can start to thrive too. I’ve already spotted some figs. Fingers crossed.
This project has been chaotic and overwhelming. Still, we’re already making plans to extend the irrigation to the lower orchard. Boldly onward we go! Goodness knows how we’ve made it this far. It must be love. For each other and for this magic place. That, and ill-advised angels cheering for us somewhere.