a Maori child's garden words

In her novel Potiki, Patricia Grace gave an intensely wise, sensitive, beautiful, poetic and moving description of planting a passionfruit vine when she was a child.

"My mother Roimata had taken a passionfruit cutting from Granny Tamihana's vine. At the time when I caught my big fish the cutting was dry and without life, that's what I've been told. But after we buried the fish head and fish guts there the plant began to grow and grow. The branches began to swim everywhere like a multiplication of eels. It was as if the big eel head with its little seed-eyes was birthing out trail after trail of its young. All the little eels swarmed the shed walls and the trees, whipping their tails and latching them to the walls and branches, still growing and multiplying all the time. And the eel-vines had a thousand hidden eyes, a thousand tails and a thousand hidden hearts.

"The hearts are dark and warm and fit in the cup of your hand. You can pull out the hearts without pain, and when you open them you the thousand dark seed-eyes. The seeds are a new beginning, but started from a death. Well everything is like that - that's what my mother Roimata says. End is always beginning. Death is life.

"The goldy seeded fruit is sharp-tasting and stinging, and leaves you with red stained fingers and a smartingk, blooded mouth.

"And the endless vine going everywhere is like a remembrance of the time, which is really a now-time, of when I was five, and of the big barking fish that I knew was waiting for me on the white sky night in the orange lagoon."

Patricia Grace reminds us that gardens exist in time, and that we are inextricably intertwined with our total environment.