The first plant I have ever successfully grown is a small pot of coriander.
I can’t even claim to have grown it, really, just not let it die. It’s in a giant teacup that I inherited when a flatmate four flats ago left to go overseas. I kept fruit in it, but my kitchen is tiny and the teacup was relocated to a bookshelf when a rice cooker took countertop precedence. There were still oranges and kiwifruit in it, and they sat there forgotten, gently moulding.
When I remembered, I put the bowl outside and it’s lived there ever since. The pot of coriander found a home there when I decided to take a punt on a live pottle rather than a sprig sealed in plastic for the same price. Some leaves have turned reddish, then brown, and I’ve plucked them when I remember. But fresh shoots of green appear, with that bright, right flavour, and the inclement Auckland summer showers are a pain for my washing but brilliant for my laissez-faire approach to gardening.
Today, I needed basil, and I brought home a pot that’s the Mediterranean twin of my coriander. We’ll see if this cycle of success can continue.
Over the fence, there is corn. Corn, in the middle of a backyard in Auckland. Corn, and a tree of unknown botanical origin, but one that monarch butterflies like to cling to in autumn. On one windy, terrifically unpleasant day, there was an orange and black blur and then a monarch perched on the boughs as they were buffeted in the the wind. Clinging on, holding tight and waiting for the storm to be over. There is a tree that bears fruit that I don’t recognise. There are sometimes tūī, which make me feel like maybe I could be back in Wellington, where the central suburbs are more rife with beautiful wildlife. This little pocket of Grey Lynn, near the park, is an anomaly for Auckland. I come from here, but maybe the emphasis should be on the ‘from’. The beaches, yes, the pōhutukawa, the jobs. But the people, the soul, the sparkle – it’s empty. Auckland doesn’t feel like anything, there’s no sense of collective spirit. Take me back to Wellington, where community feels real and the culture is more confident.
Tomorrow I start a new job. While there are always numerous factors that played into the decision to take it, many of them come down to a desire to both push myself and alleviate life and financial stress. Once that burden is taken away, I’m hoping I have the spare ergs at the end of each day to sit and write. Even if it’s just a blog entry prattling away about coriander and basil and my disdain for Auckland.
I don’t really follow sport, and neither does my sister, but once, our dad was watching a cricket game and she was around. ‘That’s Corey Anderson,’ Dad said of one player.
‘Corey Anderson?’ Merf asked. ‘Also known as Cilantro Kid?’