Why do I like my garden hut so much? After all, it is so cluttered with stuff – an over-spill of things that might one day be useful – that I don’t ever sit inside it. And if the weather is good enough to be in the garden, then I will be sitting outside enjoying the sunshine, or keeping warm by cutting, clipping or mowing. Why does the wood-panelling and simple design hold such an allure in my imagination?
Perhaps it’s the nearest I get to a house in the woods – or the idea of a house in the woods, like Thoreau, living simply, living deliberately, living in a way that dispenses with convention and the constraints of civility. In those imaginings, my garden has become the forest where nature bends to provide for me and all creatures – the panther, wolves and eagles, disguised as next-door’s black cat, the urban foxes, and magpies and pigeons. The common blue butterflies skit from sunned-leaf to leaf; the bees hover and float from bud to bud, and the tiny bugs circle their frenzied dance mid-air. I till my soil and nourish it, and plant my crops, for food or fancy, and tend and water it – as has been done since time out of mind.
And perhaps that is it. My little hut in my little garden is symbolic of the primitive, of solitude, of connection to the natural world, the ancestral world, ‘a universe outside the universe’.* It is a refuge, in my imagination, from the compulsions and deprivations of society: it is non-society, it is non-culture. It is Being, and Essence, and Beauty. Simply.
*Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space