A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 3, September 2019

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Giselle Maya & Patricia Prime
St. Martin de Castillon, France & Auckland, New Zealand


Long ago in a forest in Provence I dug up a pale yellow digitalis plant to bring back home and plant in my garden. It has thrived—every year expanding a bit and blossoming in the shade of an old quince tree. I am elated it is blossoming again now in June.

gathered into a mandala
how I came here years ago
made roots
in this patch of soil
far from my place of birth

I grow similar flowers
to those once grown at home:
daffodils, tulips,
yellow primroses in spring,
a rose bush nearly in bud

Long weekend. I ring my daughter to see what she is doing. Her family is preparing for my granddaughter's wedding next spring. She and her husband are going out with the happy couple to have a look at the beach venue they have chosen for their ceremony. Clouds come and go, and it looks like rain. They return with a white cyclamen for me from the Plant Barn where they had lunch.

Gathering wild plants: Millepertuis (St. John's Wort.)

On my way home today, I saw a meadow I had earmarked for gathering golden-yellow millepertuis, at its peak now during summer solstice. With basket and scissors I went to work.

I gathered plants, some here, some there, discreetly, so that my passage might go unnoticed.

When a large handful or two of the flowers cut at the top are added to enough fresh olive oil to cover them you close the lid of the jar and set it out in the sun on a window sill for two weeks (can be longer)—the oil will turn bright red, ready for use.

I cut enough flowers to fill my basket; back home I spread the deep yellow blossoms out on a sheet to rest a bit, before cutting the tops to immerse them in the olive oil. This is a recipe still in use in Provence. The dried flowers can also be added to tisanes (herbal teas.)

since ancient times
these tiny bright star flowers
may elevate our mood
heal burns, abrasions—
also named ''herbe de St. Jean"

the way people,
places and events
crystallise over time
brighter than ever
in our imaginations

I remember the fruit trees were taller than the fences. We bit into the soft flesh of plums until we hit stones. Sold fruit at the front of our house. It was here I fell in love for the first time with a boy from school. Swinging on the garden gate, my hair blowing into my eyes, I waited for him to come home. He'd climb the high branches, too tall for me to still see the plums. Long afterwards, before I left home to be married, the old plum tree had split / grown into two trunks on either side of the fence.

branches sprawled
strong enough to settle
the birds' nests
where we searched
for speckled eggs

how can I not recall
the beauty of you as a young boy
standing on a rock
surrounded by water
ready to take flight

Bee orchids in profusion in my meadow this year of spring rains. They are a protected species, amazing to the eye, quite rare.

They blossom in June. I will not have the grass cut until they have blossomed. To cut the grass at all seems absurd as it will just grow back again. The machines disturb butterflies, bees, and other tiny creatures. 'CUT THE GRASS LESS OFTEN' says a large sign on the road to Cereste; the summer heat will yellow the grasses, perhaps then they might be cut.

reluctant to disturb
grass-dwelling beings
the coziness
of living for a spell
within the scent of wildflowers

her childhood swing
long gone from the garden
now grass covers
the places where she played
her brown curls dancing

Sunrise lights up the hills; shadows start to track backwards. Light trickles through wet branches, vines and creepers in my garden fight for space. Ferns choke the corners as my feet wallow in rotting leaves. Then there is the sun, waiting, balanced on the ridge. A cold blast nips leaves not in the bud but in their fullness. A bank of cloud comes in over the Waitakere Ranges, and on the horizon the pale sun shines. The holidays are over; the children return to school.

on the doorstep
we sit in mid-spring sun
the air humming
with bees in the flowers
of the white blossomed trees

Note: Refer to Wikipedia for medicinal applications for Millepertuis (St. John's Wort)