the demolition of the house happened very fast, over the space of a few days, but now - nothing is happening. for more than a week, our garden has been behind a fence, littered with the demolition debris, and no work is being done to clear it up. the earth is full of broken glass, broken tiles, shards of wood. a few more plants and a lot of ground have been damaged by the caterpillar tracks of the digger. a huge pile of wood is stacked at one side, awaiting removal. but when that might happen is anyone's guess. apparently the cellar of the house will be filled with gravel and a metre of topsoil, but there's no sign of that yet.
meanwhile spring progresses: plants grow, snails feast, birds hatch. we have moved the plants that we could to pots and boxes, where they must be frequently watered and what we can grow is limited. there are places where water drips from broken drainpipes, and we place buckets there to catch the water. it's frustrating, having the garden behind the fence and being unable to prepare the ground and plant. i wonder whether we will be allowed back into the garden. perhaps the city wants to use it for something else. apparently it was written in a newspaper that it will be a garden for artists, but i'm suspicious. everything feels tenuous, it could all be snatched away.
it is a bit crazy thati still own a car in new zealand despite living in germany for five years now. but i've owned this lovely ap5 valiant since 1993 and she has served me extremely well over the years, driving the length of new zealand several times, and i'm just not emotionally ready to sell her.
happily, while i'm overseas lucy the valiant resides in the safe hands of bob & georgie wilton at gasoline heaven in carterton, in the company of some very nice other vintage cars. today i received an update from bob - they took lucy out for a drive recently and she ran very well - and this photo of her relaxing in the museum.
lucy the valiant turned 50 last october (2014). the summer before, andy and i drove down to dunedin in her, then up and over to karamea and mapua before crossing back over to the north island and returning her to the museum. she didn't miss a beat on the trip, however we had very bad luck with the weather - it rained every day - and the old girl is a bit leaky. so it's good to know that she's tucked up warm & dry inside the museum. next time i'm over i will have to do some rust investigation ...
earlier this year i was really happy to discover a community garden being established in the grounds of the creative quarter in my new neighbourhood. within a collection of old military and factory buildings, now used as artists' ateliers and various other things, is an old abandoned wooden house with a garden around it. a group of artists and activists from the area had begun to re-establish what must have once been a productive garden - there still remained fruit trees, roses, and other plants in amongst the overgrowth - and they were happy to have more volunteers join.
but before i had started, the group was shocked by the unannounced felling of two trees (including one very productive pear tree) in the garden. there had already been some discussion about the safety of the house and talk of it being pulled down, so the group swung into action to try and find out what was going on, and what could be done to save if not the house then at least the garden. i'm still not totally clear on who owns the property - i think the city of munich - and i didn't go to any of the meetings because my german is not good enough for bureaucratic details. the group learned that the house had been deemed structurally unsound and needed to be demolished, so a performance event was planned for the end of may to farewell the house.
this monday, just two days ago, i finally went to begin gardening; i took parsley and mint from the pots on the balcony and spent an hour weeding a patch to plant them in. the soil, very wet from recent heavy rain, is dark, rich and writhing with healthy worms; it looks almost good enough to eat. i planted and watered my little plants, and checked the other plants in the garden. unfortunately young salad and kohlrabi plants had been pretty much eaten by snails. but i left the garden feeling energised by getting my hands in the dirt and looking forward to more gardening before the may event.
then on tuesday morning, urgent texts and emails came from dorothea: the house was to be demolished immediately! anyone who could should go as soon as possible to rescue plants. i jumped on my bike and was there a few minutes later, to find workmen ripping out the remaining carpets, doors and fittings from the house and throwing them out the window. i moved what i could, including digging up the herbs i'd planted not even 24 hours before. i found a pot for them, & added them to a collection of potted plants at the edge of the property, then dragged tables to form a protective wall for these plants. later that evening, others came and moved the plants and tables away completely.
this morning i pedalled back in the rain to see what was happening. i got there at about 10.30am, and already a quarter of the house was gone. a digger had sunk its heavy caterpillar tracks into the soft wet earth in the area where the two trees had earlier been cut down, and with great care and precision was removing shattered planks, broken windows, etc from the area that had been destroyed. i watched for an hour, taking photos and getting cold and wet. only two men were working, the digger driver and one other, and together they sorted wood from other materials to make great piles of the house's remains. while i was there several other people came to look and photograph the destruction. finally i was wet and cold enough and went home. i'll go again tomorrow to see the progress - apparently it will take about a week to demolish and remove. the space will then be filled in with gravel. and then ... well, i hope we will be able to continue to garden in this space. i hope ...