The Katie Murray Blog: Fertile Darkness

This is an extract from Katie Murray's forthcoming Memoir:

This morning there’s nothing between my fingers but gratitude and warm dark earth. The perfect snowdrops, purple crocus, soft yellow primroses and camellia bush, they are my reward for surviving the winter. Oh, and the buds of the blueberry bush, and the bright shock of purple on the lavender; welcome signs of better days to come. Hope in terracotta pots, my plants are to me. Signs of hope and growth.

The bluebells are mounds of bright green, potential incarnate. I really love bluebells. They remind me of the sun speckled walks through the Bunny Old Woods last year when I finished chemotherapy. Scared of the camera and so utterly grateful to be walking in the woods with my boys. It was an enchanted walk. The secret clearing, we stumbled into was awash with the hum of that most particular blue that is the bluebell, such a vivid memory. I am here and I am growing, those bluebells said to me, they also whisper - no they shout, sing - parade renewal. Happiness itself is a walk through the bluebells with someone you love. Bluebells always remind me of Coral as a toddler in our old garden, stomping down the wonky flagstone path with her pillar-box red wellies on, her face upturned to me, a beckoning moon and in her tiny chubby hand, her dead fish. She wanted to choose the right spot for his burial. Where does the fish go now, Mummy? I can still hear her voice. I wrote a poem about it at the time I was so moved by her three-year-old wisdom. Oh, wise child, wise child, you know you do not know.

As the morning moves on overhead, the excitement of the snow drops is still a talking point, especially as we have just uncovered an intimate huddle of narcissi hidden behind the mint plant, the chipped terracotta pots and the BBQ. Their yellow cries of, ‘we are here, we made it,’ is pure joy! They are surprised to be here again, and so grateful, so grateful. To live again. Miracles hidden in the

I remember last winter planting my bulbs in the cold soil. I remember the feeling of earth between my fingers. The promise it held for me. I don’t remember what I wore - in the summer I love to garden in bare feet - I don’t remember if I felt the cold, the memory is tinged in a loving hue and there is a feeling of basking and having time but maybe that came from the fact that I was incanting time and Mother Nature, talking to my bulbs and the rugged earth while I laid them softly inside the small holes I dug with my fingers. I buried my bulbs and I planted my hopes in the winter ground. A chant in my head, ‘I am planted not buried. Planted not buried.’ I remember distinctly feeling such comfort from my own thoughts, my words pure love. Honey for the heart.

It is so important to record the Hope. To keep an inventory. Where she is. How she shows up. If only to use that to recall her, in the darkest times.

After the brutal winter of chemotherapy last year, I remember the utter joy when the tulips woke up. Emerged, with me. I’m just like you, I thought to the tulips - I was buried like you under the ground, invisible even to myself.

Once those pink tulips last Spring had started to wax and wane, my neighbour told me how her family admired my tulips from their window. I remember being surprised by this and making a mental note to look at my own garden through the eyes of other people more often. I remember that was not even a metaphor but now I can see how it is.

My own words have hauled me across some hard and furrowed earth. And today, there is nothing between my fingers but gratitude and warm earth. Fertile darkness.

Beautiful photograph of Bluebells from Sarah Greer Photography check her out on @sarah_greer_photography 

To make direct contact with Katie drop her an email at or DM her on Instagram @1day_2019