I am sore and I am exhausted. The balls of my feet ache from hunkering down, my knees are pebble-dashed black and blue, the base of my right thumb is skinned and the dimple in my right butt cheek has clenched to what must surely be dimple record-breaking proportions.
Husband and I worked our arses off yesterday. Seriously, the combined circumference of our posteriors must surely be significantly reduced. We rose at the crack of dawn to wage war on our weedy front drive. We hit the dirt at 6.00 AM as the birds were waking and the slugs were taking cover. It was an unexpectedly beautiful day. (I heard at the school gate that the crew filming Star Wars in West Kerry had to ship in water for rain machines yesterday as they had scheduled a stormy scene. Someone ought to have told them that you can’t schedule Irish weather. That’s why we talk about it so much)
I expected we would go back to bed with coffee by 9.00 but we hit a rhythm and carried on for eight hours.
That’s not exactly the truth.
I hit one of those manic, must-keep-moving days and Husband knows, after all these years, that he is better coming along for the ride. Or, perhaps, he stays by my side to mind me, to do the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively.
Would it horrify you if I said that, even after eight hours of dedicated extraction, there are still dandelions in the front drive? The so-called lawn would be better-titled as ‘buttercup border‘, ‘clover corner‘ or ‘dandelion dale‘. That is fine, doesn’t bother me at all, but those dandelions and buttercups are determined to annexe the driveway and I must defend my path to the outside world. This problem, like so many, could be solved with money. Six tons of proper gravel would see us right. In the meantime we resort to channelling my mania. Mid-morning, we resigned ourselves to a losing battle, had an inspirational bowl of yogurt and took a sideways approach.
We planted better weeds.
We dug up the most obnoxious offenders and replaced them with seedlings of Verbena bonariensis. The theory is that these butterfly magnets will stretch upwards and outwards to fill the spaces and distract the eye. If weeds were gut flora, Verbena are the Lactobacilli.
A couple of Husband’s legendary cappucinos sparked a further moment of genius.
We have planted 5 ornamental cherry trees out there, 1 plum cherry, 2 lilacs, 3 acers, a contorted hazel, a wedding-cake tree, a precious walnut and a tiny Magnolia stellata that hasn’t grown an inch since the day she was watered in. (Yes, we could have saved all that money and bought the six tons of gravel but where would be the fun in that?) The weeds encroach upon our babies with heartless ferocity and we can’t keep up with clearing them.
So, here is my cheap and rather brilliant solution. I raided my cardboard box mountain (many Amazon deliveries) and fashioned collars to fit each tree, thus:
We cut and cleared circles around each tree, watered them, fit their new collars and dressed them with a think layer of mulch.
If I could patent cardboard tree-collars, I could afford to buy gravel.
I retired around 4.3o to a radox bath. My gratitude for the existence of epsom salts knows no bounds.
‘Iron your own school uniforms‘, I yelled down the stairs at the teenagers and, guess what, they did. A new era dawns.
I managed to roast a small but tasty corn-fed chicken before folding myself into a chair for the Antiques Roadshow. Husband rubbed voltarol into my lower, lower back (a.k.a. arse) and I rolled quietly into motionless sleep.
I woke around 4.00 AM, possibly because the effects of the voltarol had worn off. Raising my head ever-so-slightly I saw the moon shining orange like a marigold. I lay there pondering life, my own sanity and the value of anti-inflammatory cream.
I’ve been thinking a lot about adolescence (and the adolescents in my care). In the interest of fairness, I’ve tried to recall what I was like at seventeen. I was a very good girl. My school report officially declared me ‘mature beyond (my) years’. I lived at the arse-end of nowhere and had little opportunity to find trouble but yet, when that chance came my way, I took it.
I spent an annual fortnight with my father during summer holidays which, in fact, meant two weeks of liberation with my older cousins. I drank bottles of Ritz (eurgghhh, burp) and got drunk, but only once or twice because I don’t like to lose control. I got in a car with a guy I had just met at a disco and let him drive me to the side of a lake at three in the morning. I might have been raped or murdered but I wasn’t. I was kissed soundly and delivered safely to my aunt’s house. Was that just luck? I like to think that I had good judgement. Surely, everyone thinks they have good judgement and, if you didn’t, how could you tell?
My parents didn’t police me. They agreed on little back then but they were of one opinion that I could only benefit from loosening up at bit. They may have been right about that.
Over and over again I have come up against a brick wall when I ask myself the question, ‘what would a responsible parent do here?’. I am forced to cast around for reliable advice, I’ve been known to pay for it, and then I rely on that good judgement.
This raising of a person from fresh-minted babe to full-grown man seems to be something of a three-legged marathon with an unpredictable and arbitrary finish line.
I thought we were tipping along at a decent clip, a good team, the end-point coming into view around the next corner. Then some fool stuck their leg out and tripped us up and I fell flat on my face. I don’t know how to get up again. I want to roll to the sidelines and say, ‘carry on by yourself, pet, you’ll be grand’.
But, that’s not right, is it? Pity they don’t make voltarol and radox baths for hurt egos and bruised hearts.
I am exhausted and I am sore.
From my back garden this morning: