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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 6 (September 1, 1937.)


page 50


the maternal month.

September — Nature's maternal month! The soil is one big bassinette; baby buds are bursting, infant spuds are thirsting, and the horticultural stork is busily bounding from bed to bed. Spring's infantile influence affects the hardest-boiled homo. His mind is in rompers, his tongue lisps the language of the nursery. Strong, silent caliphs of commerce who are usually sound, sane and sombre may be detected gooing at a baby jonquil, crooning over a sprouting spraxia, comforting a shrinking shallot, or fondling the frond of an early onion.

Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself has said,
“It's spring; I feel it in me blood,
I fain would kiss an infant spud,
Or rock a radish on my knee,
Or croon to baby broccoli.”
A man who never this has said
In spirit is already dead.

For the hardest heart is melted by the mellifluous magic of Nature's nursery.

Thoughts On Gardening.

This is the time when the gardener's thoughts turn to gardening. You see him sitting in sunny corners turning his thoughts to gardening. He lies on his back in sun-porches turning his thoughts to gardening. His wife discovers him asleep among the hydrangeas apparently turning his dreams to gardening. There are known cases of spring gardeners positively gardening in their garden. But, generally speaking, this is the time for turning the thoughts to gardening.

It is the period of poetic pondering rather than low labour. One marks the unfolding of the pristine petal, the magic of the tender tendril, the plaintive plop of the bursting bud. To profane such poetic passion with sordid spade and rabid rake would be an offence against poesy, lethargy and personal inclination.

So the gardener sits in contemplative calm, oblivious of the wifely “insinuendo,” deaf to the spousely spruik anent the way of the weed, the luxuriance of the lawn and such sordid considerations as mowing and hoeing.

Seasonal Seizures.

That is the worst of wives. They are prone to mistake man's joyous idealism for bone laziness. Spring produces in them an unidealistic urgency that, to the meditative male, is most indecent. To them a spring hat is a rhapsody in “Oh,” but the multitudinous manifestations of Nature's necromancy only incite them to materialistic notions calculated to put the skids under Romance and the spade into a husband's hand. They read the gardening notes aloud to their bitter halves who fain would toy with abstract ideals unrelated to early cabbages and the propagation of parsley.

“A cabbage that no one but an assassin could bear to cut off in its prime.”

“A cabbage that no one but an assassin could bear to cut off in its prime.”

They say with sinister determination: “I see that now is the time to sprinkle potash of perlmutter over the lillium bed.”

“Um,” replies the victim of Spring. “It says here that all dandylion and daisy should be removed from the lawn before top-dressing and replanting.”

“Ah,” replies the marital burden-bearer.

“Rose trees should now be sprayed with deodorised dillwater,” orates the domestic dream-shatterer.

“Woof,” grunts the sharer of family joys and sorrows.

“All ground should be finally turned over and treated with chloride of culpepper for spring sewing,” cries the marital mentor.

“Yah!” fumes the hounded husbandman.

“Climbing roses should be tied back and squirted with a solution of methylated mothballs, daffodils should be—“

“Bah!” snorts the disillusioned illusionist; but he knows what is going to happen to him this spring. It happened to him last spring. He looks forward to the day when he will page 51 be too old to wield a weeder or sock a sod; when he will sit, undisturbed by the utilitarian tenacity of his spousish springbok, and drink deep of the spirit of spring.

Such is the way of the greatest minds. John Ruskin was a devoted observer of Nature's nuances, but it's long odds that he never taught a baby turnip to turn or a spring onion to spring.

A Seedy Soliloquy.

Yes, alas! There are coarsely materialistic minds that insist that the significance of spring is terrestrial as well as spiritual, who maintain that a beet in the hand is worth two in the heart. Perhaps, of these, wives and seedsmen are the most ruthlessly rampant. In fact, without wives to move the male to unenthusiastic activity, the seedsman would wither and whence. Seedsmen are not romantic. If they dream at all they dream of a seedless existence wherein all the gardens look like asphalt tennis courts. I knew only one retired seedsman (most of them die early of gardener's palsy through having to listen to the horticultural lies of their clients). This retired seedsman spent the evening of his life as happy as a sandboy, in the Sahara Desert. He lived on seedless raisins and weedkiller. He used to sit for hours and hours in rhapsodic contemplation of the miles and miles of howling wilderness that wouldn't grow a thing. But one day he saw a mirage of a bed of spinach and the shock killed him.

But while a seedsman is in business he attends to his vegetables and incites wives to buy cabbages and things for husbands to plant in the spring when the said husbands would far rather dream of the wondrous ways of creation and let Nature take her course.


Seedsmen prey on the artistic and mystic qualities of the unsuspecting
Sweet Nature Pauses Just Before the Spring.

Sweet Nature Pauses Just Before the Spring.

“Catalogues calculated to convert a Beef-eater to vegetarianism.”

“Catalogues calculated to convert a Beef-eater to vegetarianism.”

male by printing catalogues containing coloured illustrations calculated to convert a Beef-eater to vegetarianism. There are cucumbers that never grew out of Eden—long luscious tubes of daddy's delight without a hump to mar their lucent lines. There are carrots that look like bunches of terra-cotta turrets moulded by Michael Angelo. There are cabbages so perfect in colour and contour that no one but an assassin could bear to cut them off in their prime. There are melons like the green gazing-globes of a magi. It's not fair; especially in the spring when the spirits are high and the suspicions are low. Such creations shake the soul of the unsuspecting gardener to its very roots so that, intoxicated by horticultural ambition and egged on by the exhortations of an unscrupulous helpmeet, he staggers home looking like harvest-week in the old home-town.


“Dreaming when Dawn's left hand was in the sky,” he waits for Creation to work its magic on his broccoli bed, cabbage cradle and cauliflower cot. What happens ? Ask yourself! If he has the luck of me and you, his cabbages are like green knob-kerries, you could use his carrots for boot-laces, the spring onions look “sprung,” the children play marbles with the pumpkins, the turnips don't turn up, the cucumbers miss their cue, the peas take one cross-eyed look out of the ground and turn back, and the baby uses the only marrow to cut his teeth on.

No doubt, as the seedsman says, he either put too much and/or too little cyanide of sassafras on them, or was too generous and/or too niggardly with the hydrated essence of ditherums. But, aren't we all? We fell down on the stimulants last spring; we'll come a crash next spring and all subsequent springs. But, so long as spouse, seedsman and catalogue conspire with spring to stir up the ambrosia of ambition—we'll keep on doing it.