Life Health & Wellbeing

Saturday 23 March 2019

John Masterson: 'A little bit of seasoning might add bite to my life'

Brexit has made me more aware of seasons. I am thinking strongly of becoming a more seasonal person. This may involve some gardening.

I don't mean the pretty type which anyone can do. I mean the vegetable type - which in my mind only old, bored or boring people do. Since I have not yet been able to contemplate myself as middle aged (delusion is a wonderfully protective psychological device) I did think it too soon in life to fill my life with activities like planting parsnips.

Brexit has made me aware of just how similar our supermarkets look every month of the year. Nothing is ever unavailable. Gone are the days of looking forward to the first of the new potatoes with salt and butter. You can do it any day of the week now. I used to look forward to going to France for some squid. Nowadays calamari is about as common as fish and chips. For me there is really only one season. Summer. I am either waiting for it or eking the last few autumnal days out of it.

Winter has nothing to recommend it except Christmas, which I thoroughly enjoy. The snowdrops in January give me hope again. Spring is supposed to begin in February - but that is a joke. In spring you see daffodils which give more hope, though so mild has the cold season been this year that my neighbours had them in flower on Christmas Day.

Spring is also the time when the dawn gets noticeably earlier and dusk is a few minutes later each day. The bluebells in Jenkinstown Wood form their annual carpet - and if you haven't seen them, put it on your list. At the end of April, like clockwork, the irises that were planted by a friend's mother many years ago bloom and I am ready to fire on all cylinders for a few months. Autumn is a waste of a season unless you get perverse pleasure from sweeping up leaves.

I have made some small steps towards gardening. I do the things like grow mint and parsley and a few herbs that are very handy to have and even I cannot kill them. It is a cliche that food from your own garden tastes better - but even putting your own mint on some potatoes does bring a small pleasure. Last summer a friend installed some hanging baskets of tomatoes and with just a little water I was able to eat from them all summer.

In this era of food miles, it is time to take the next step. Years ago I would have gone the whole hog and put in a polytunnel and after about six weeks forgotten all about it.

So instead it will be baby steps. I live in the country so it is entirely possible that all I will do is feed an army of slugs and get very frustrated.

I do remember the immense pleasure my father got from gardening. I suspect there were months when 100pc of our vegetables came from the garden. If we were vegetarian we could practically have lived off grid.

Perhaps I could eventually become a man for all seasons. This could actually be middle age. Or perhaps my inner hippie is making a resurgence. It is only a matter of time before I begin to fantasise about living in a commune. In California please.

Sunday Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Life