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Diggin’ & Plantin’

Diggin’ and Plantin’

That seems to be the sum total of this weekend just gone. On Saturday we all tipped ourselves out of bed and ended up down at Darlek’s school field, helping to plant the new wildlife garden. I was very proud of Horace, as he was the only man there, it always strikes me as sad that school stuff seems to be the domain of women, even at weekends and fund raising events. So, there he was. 6ft 4, armed with spade and a grin. It made me even happier to see how the kids threw themselves into the task at hand.

Sausage wore gloves that were too big for him and ambled around trying desperately to be helpful, whilst getting in the way but being cute in the process. At one point I found him with a random stick, stuck vertically in the ground – he was studiously piling soil around it like he was trying to plant it. Darlek was a great help and plonked the sticks with roots in the ditch that had been dug, but eventually got a bit bored and found her niche with a couple of the lads who were litter picking with long handled pincer things and black plastic bags.  They wandered around the edges of the field waving their sticks at each other, shouting, laughing and waving litter at each other.

Drinks and biscuits were provided, so both of my two were in their element. Every five minutes Sausage sidled up to me hopefully and said ‘Bizkit?’ (I genuinely think he ate about 6) and Darlek was similarly enamoured with them. I’ll admit that I ate about 4, the last two I ate sneakily when I didn’t think anyone was looking. There were about 15 packets of the things so I don’t feel too guilty. Well, go on then, actually I do a bit now I’ve evaluated just how many biscuits we must all have eaten between us. One wonders if we’ll get invited to these diggin’ do’s again, or if we’ll simply be known as biscuit monsters and shunned….

I thought it was lovely that the teacher who was organising the work, insisted that anyone who helped out threw a handful of the wildflower mix over the freshly turned over soil.  It seemed important somehow, a final gesture.  So that when we walked past in a couple of months time and the ground was covered in a ‘Marmalade Mix’ of wildflowers, we could each think, ‘We helped with that!’ It’s nice to be able to make even a small difference in the the area we live in.

After that we went over to my sister’s and drank cups of tea and chatted.  Horace and my brother in law disappeared for a while, and I only realised where they were when my Sis burst into peals of laughter and pointed out into her garden.  Horace and Brother-in-Law where both involved in a battle with a small tree.  I think being outside and planting stuff had gone to Horace’s head a little and he had dragged BIL (I can’t keep putting Brother-In-Law) into his gardening frenzy.  You see, Sis has been meaning to sort out her garden for ages.  They moved in and inherited a lovely sized area, which is unfortunately covered in literally tons of gravel, and has two sorry looking stick trees planted unceremoniously in the middle of it. The plan has always been to cut down the trees, remove the gravel and commence planting flower beds and a lawn.   I think BIL had mentioned this plan and a casual fag break out the back had spiralled out of control and the trees were the first casualty.

Horace with knackered wheelbarrow in industrial landscape (previously Sis's respectable back garden)

It was very funny to see BIL stood there looking a combination of bemused and amused whilst Horace had aforesaid tree at a 45 degree to the ground and was hacking it with a small axe.  They both looked a parody of masculinity, all axes and manual labour and fags hanging out the corner of their mouths.  Knowing how much Horace usually avoids the outdoors like the plague, and how BIL doesn’t like being made to do stuff – they were playing out parts that were exactly the opposite to their usual roles.  It was like they were pretending to be ‘real men’ or something.  All they needed was Monty Python’s ‘I’m a Lumberjack, and I’m OK’ playing in the background.  Then it would have been perfect.

The next day was even better.  We went back for the afternoon and carried on decimating Sis’s back garden.  I raked gravel into gravelly stripes, and then shovelled these stripes into piles at the back of the garden, and Sis and Horace did the same.  We did have a wheelbarrow but it had a  puncture so it was useless, I swear it was taunting me and my aching back.  Darlek wandered around looking for precious stones amongst the gravel, and had her jumper kangaroo pocket loaded with different coloured stones of various shapes and sizes.  Just like her mum I thought.  I can’t ever walk alongside a river without coming home with piles of stones.

Sausage stared out of the window at us, grinning and waving inanely every now and then.  By the end of the day it looked like there’d been a huge stone mole loose, piles of gravel everywhere!  Two uprooted trees lay dying in a pile, the hedgerows had been hacked and had shed green fronds all over the place and a make-shift fire burnt smokily in a firepit in the middle of the destruction.  Through teamwork and hard effort, we had turned a half respectable back garden into something that resembled an industrial nightmare.  Sis’s neibour suddenly started paying attention to what was going on. After 5 months she’d paid so little attention that she actually asked Horace ‘How are you settling in?’ over the fence.  Horace said he was settling in fine, but didn’t actually live there and that he was the BIL.  Sis and BIL have lived there for the grand total of 5 months, I suspect it’s taken a grand garden wrecking weekend to finally get her attention.

We came home after having our wages paid in the form of hotdogs and mustard, and pined for a garden.  We want our own garden to pull in pieces and we want it NOW! (stamps feet).  I think Horace has proved this weekend that he can muster enthusiasm for the outdoors if he tries hard enough, Darlek can plant hedgerows, Sausage can plant sticks and I can dig a bit and moan about my back.  I think plans and schemes maybe afoot…