We had some mint at the farm that, contrary to most expectations of mint, thrived in a very sunny, exposed spot that didn’t get a lot of water. It had taken a year to decide whether to live or die, but once it was established it thrived. Before we left the farm I picked a big bag of it, for tea and salads. It turned out to be a miracle bag, staying fresh for weeks. Even when some small pieces blackened, there were still other pieces that were bright green and fragrant. It was only when the mint was nearly finished that I thought that I could have kept it longer by letting it grow in water. So I found a few pieces that still had firm stalks, cut the bottoms off them and stuck them in a glass of water.
Like little shoots of green in spring that speak so loudly of promise and hope and rebirth, the mint stalks developed a fuzz that turned into tiny hairy roots that quickly extended into strings of root circling the inside of the glass. The leaf stem was shooting up too, growing long and lanky. New leaves sprouted, but they were light green and stunted. I put the glass in the tiny gap between the two layers of windows to let it catch the sun, but the water kept on evaporating. My mint needed a proper home.
When you want to grow something and you live in a flat, soil becomes a precious thing. I have found a community garden nearby, with community compost bins. Once or twice a week I go down there to empty our compost bucket, unable to let all that good proto-soil go into the garbage bin. I found a plastic pot on a throw-out pile in the street and took it down to the garden the next time I went with my compost. I wandered the garden, nostalgic for the time when I paid attention to each new leaf and shoot and bud, brushing against the clutch of unruly pumpkin vines, feeling the roughness of their leaves without needing to touch them. I walked under an arch of passionfruit, noted a rosella springing up, admired the size of kale leaves and a luxuriance of beans, hanging decoratively.
There was a mound of soil in a corner that looked like an emptied compost bin. I filled my scavenged plant pot and took it home, potted up the mint over the laundry tub, used an old vegetable tray (non-recyclable, so I’d intended to take it back to the shop) as a saucer, and put the mint back in a spot where it can catch the morning sun and dream of hills that caught the wind and called back to the cries of the black cockatoos.