Friday, 3 May 2013

The season begins

I have begun my annual back garden clearance.

I expect this Aegean task could overwhelm me about next Tuesday when I shall finally break down and cry. In truth, the emotional labour of it exhausts me more than the physical labour. I can throw stuff about with my old scrawny torso no problem; it is the pain from the broken bits of my rusted iron heart falling clanging about my feet that normally does for me in the end.

I look at my garden now, and I tell myself, if it wasn't for the unicorn hanging by its neck from the tree, everything would be fine.

This is, of course, a lie. I have a memory of my garden filled with the blooms of full-skirted blood-red poppies, surrounded by the late evening scent of jasmine and Mexican orange blossom, all mixed up with the sensuous pleasure of exotic lilies. And now it is nothing more than a torturing mat of brambles, an assortment of plastic buckets, and a horrible hole in the ground where the dinosaurs live. Somewhere, I am told, we have a raspberry bush that no-one remembers planting, so it must have come in with the bird droppings. That is the result of my thirteen years living with triplets.

And now I am going to begin it all over again. This tension over the garden. I could call it a creative tension but it isn't really. A creative tension - whether both sides are exchanging blows, curses or kisses - can produce an offering to the gods much greater than any one side could have fashioned alone. But my garden is clearly anything but the result of a creative tension. More the end product of an annual cycle of despair and despondency with a few bitter tears and resentful recriminations thrown in for good measure.

The problem is, I have had such brilliant ideas for childhood fantasy! If only my children would stop arguing with me and let me loose on my creative imaginings, I could have conjured all manner of magical fantasy constructions! But Squirrel, Tiger and Shark have only ever wanted to fill the garden with holes in the ground, the contents of my crockery cupboard, plastic stuff draped over bushes, old bikes, bits of wood, twenty-four pairs of scissors, the bath plug, and now, somewhere to set on fire.

Gardens that children like, and gardens made for children by adults: here we have a fundamental mis-match of vision.

However. The neighbour has unwittingly helped me identify a positive way forward. Here is their front garden.

They have had that shopping trolley adorning the garden for months, alternatively using it as some sort of plant stand, a refuse collecting point, and a place to lodge the cat.

But it is obvious to me that they are indeed trying, even though they are surrounded by adversity. Look, they recently added a note of rus in urbe by propping up a whitewashed stone rabbit under a selection of dead twigs.

I am taking great courage from this spirited approach to gardening. It speaks to me not of failure and complete hopelessness, but of real grit and determination. It sings to me, undefeated by circumstance, blind to failings, look! it all may be crap, but we can yet achieve!

Thus I am resolved. I will not look bleakly at my wilderness of old stepladders, disused bikes, dead unicorns, matted bramble and holes in the ground filled with sieves and plates, remembering what is past, and lost.

I will look upon my space and know that even if the end result is still Gold Medallist in the Shit Garden Awards, my labours will count: I will measure my endeavours using no comparison with what is gone, but by my determination to effect something. I will work with the children to shape the garden for us all.

And if my final garden landscape ends up with an Asda shopping trolley holding up three pot plants, a bag of rubbish and a tom cat, I shall hail it, success.

1 comment:

Irene said...

That is very encouraging. I doubt you and the gritlets could come up with anything looking as horrid as that. I bet your pile would look much more creative and have more scientific interest. These people are just amateurs, after all.