65 / The Curse


Hi, Welcome to For F*ture’s Sake! A disillusioned designer's hopeful transition to a tiny farm future.

Reading time: 3 minutes

“That’s the trouble with people, their root problem.  Life runs alongside them, unseen. Right here, right next. Your kind never sees us whole. There’s as much below ground as above. Creating the soil. Cycling water. Heading nutrients. Making weather. Building atmosphere. Feeding and curing and sheltering more kinds of creatures than people know how to count.”

Richard Power, The Overstory

I used to have a hawthorn tree. Well, technically it was my neighbours, but its prettier parts preferred to hang out on my side, where it's twiggy, thorny branches were a haven for insects and birds. With its white-stalked flowers and pink, tie-dyed anthers, it persisted in supplying berries, practically the whole-year round.

When my neighbour announced he was chopping it down, I begged him not to. Sentiment aside (because he clearly had none), I listed plenty of reasons to spare it; hidden benefits to him and the surrounding ecosystem. 

"With trees," I concluded, “we miss the half of it. And more.”

A Good Story

Even the best arguments in the world can’t change a set mind. It’s the way we’re made. Our powers of identification, imagination and empathy are driven more by our narrative expectations than by facts and figures.

It takes a good story to change an opinion.

And that’s why, I’m still kicking myself, for not telling Hatchet Harry next door, of "the curse.” 

For centuries, Irish lore has warned of dreadful consequences should a hawthorn tree be damaged or dug up. The curses of premature death or serious injury spring to mind. 

The hawthorn tree is sacred, you see. It’s said that fairies dance around them in midnight revels. And these merry little beings are not of the benign, glowing white kind.

Today, farmers daren’t touch a fairy tree on their land. Major roadworks have even been realigned for fear of eternal malediction.

But alas, there was no adjustment for this tree; my tree. It's gone now, along with the blackbirds, and I wish, the fairies too.

Cry Me A River

In it’s place, especially after a downpour, there sits water; insane quantities of the stuff. Mucky, brown liquid pools right across my (and the neighbour's) lawn — the site of my would-be allotment.

The curse has made a bad situation worse.

You see, a river runs beneath my patch. Yes, literally. A fucking, rogue watercourse called the river Bradogue; and it moves under my garden. 

It took a mound of wasted effort, and a long-lived local, to learn of this unwelcome fact. 

Last summer, by hand, I shovelled twelve square metres of soil for an in-ground trampoline. The hole filled up with so much water, I’d little choice but to fill it in again. 

So yeah, if a high water table had my blood boiling before, now — through no fault of my own — I’ve got a fairy’s curse to exorcise too.

A Recap

In seven short weeks since beginning this transition to a tiny farm future, a few things have happened: 

If only someone or something would give me a sign; anything at all — a hint, a signal — that my notions of smallholding are ridiculous. Then, I could give it all up and embrace a proper hobby; one without heartache or dirty fingernails.

Like bitcoin!

Because sometimes, as with a fairy tree, it's simply better to let things be.

But until Mother Nature — or whoever — delivers that telling finger wag, I’ll continue making plans. And that's why, next week, I aim to have a comprehensive “tiny farm” layout!

Take care - S