In my garden, there is a patch of brown dirt that is unremarkable. My irrigation line doesn’t extend here so the earth starts to dry out in summer. By February fissures appear like cracks on a chocolate cake when it’s almost done. Visitors walk past it without a glance.
But sometime in March, a small, white tip pokes through the soil. From the hard earth, more delicate spears emerge and, after a few days, blossom into six-petalled blooms that transform the dirt patch into a carpet of purple autumn crocuses.
This patch is just outside my study, where I’m trying to cajole Sabah and Lamia‘s story into a work of creative non-fiction. To help me is Mark Tredinnick‘s Little Red Writing Book. On Creative Writing, he advises, ‘Write most quietly when the politics are shrill. That’s when quietness and calm and inconsequential beauty are most exquisitely needed.’
Back to my writing I turn. As I write Place of Refuge, I keep, at the back of my mind, a picture of the delicate spears, surprising in their strength, finding a way through rain-starved soil, catching visitors by surprise with colour and beauty where once was only nondescript brown dirt.