Sunday 12 October 2008

Print this story

Games, jazz and scones in a Kitchen Garden

© John Sawyer – October 2008

The jasmine on the back fence and the ryegrass in the nature strip started it. The click ad for Claratyne on The AGE web site’s weather summary confirmed it and now the north wind is blowing pollen and dust across the school playground. It’s one of those spring days where everything conspires to make your eyes water and your nose run.

I’m not worried. The jazz duo on the veranda outside the school kitchen is playing “Misty” for me. I know its “Misty” because that’s how they started. The saxophone has dragged us into a number of barely recognisable variations and the piano keeps pulling us back towards the main theme before deviating to a variation of its own. I look at birds dashing around the elm tree’s seed pods and I wonder if those seeds are adding to my watery discomfort.

The duo brings the tune back to the main theme and plays a few bars before fading to silence. I clap politely and move the slightly comfortable folding chair into the shade while parents and friends tuck into more Devonshire teas and talk about family, books, work colleagues, mortgage payments and their expectations for their kids. Some older students are clearing cups and plates with remnants of cream and strawberry jam back to the kitchen. They look very professional in cook’s caps and aprons. Other students are running a face painting stall and conducting walking tours of the school’s kitchen garden and the animal nursery that's been set up by the Neighbourhood House for the day. Most of the kids have already participated in the egg and spoon, sack and relay races while fathers and grandfathers wondered about the 2020 or 2024 Olympics and the best educational path to get there.

We’re celebrating Kitchen Garden Week and the school community is trying to make a few dollars to improve the cooking and gardening program for next year. A lesson in health, that tries to make the kids understand that good food has a source earlier than the supermarket shelf and that it can be manufactured by people who don’t wear hats with a golden M on the side.

A blue tennis ball rolls in front of me and stops against my instep. I pick it up and throw it to the kid in the Demons jumper whose been delegated to chase across the playground to fetch it. When he drops the ball, I refrain from making a smart comment about his father’s choice of football team. Perhaps I threw it wrongly. Anyway this is supposed to be a happy safe environment.

The young musos are now on a piece that I don’t know so I can’t pick what’s a variation and what’s part of the main tune. I am impressed when the pianist does a solo. Instead of just standing there grooving or clicking his fingers, the saxophonist reaches behind for a complimentary scone, spreads it with jam and cream and proceeds to devour it. He finishes just before the solo finishes. Was it good timing or did the pianist have an eye on the scone and continue his riff just long enough?

A neighbour drags up a chair and we talk about car manufacturing and our local member’s performance as Finance Minister and as the Government's media “go to man” when things go a bit astray. I think about heading back home. It’s almost time for me to sit on the back veranda and watch the lorikeets’ afternoon attack on the pale pink flowered powton in our own kitchen garden. Was the garden führer serious this morning when she told me that the jasmine was not causing my hay fever because it was dead? An amazing plant that manages to sprout new blooms even after its demise. I love Spring, even if my eyes sting most of the time.


Visit my Techo Blog