Monday, 2 March 2009

Gardening Days

My wellington boots have walked wet clumps of green grass across the kitchen tiles.

I left the kitchen boiler which I'd just lit (although it's almost too warm to need it and the single basket of cut wood will be enough for this morning until we relight it tonight) and went out to inspect the small fruit trees we planted last autumn. The two nectarines have been looking like their buds will burst for what feels like weeks. Small edges of pink are squeezing out between the brown sepals. The cherries and apricots though are still tight shut.

Madame M (wife of Monsieur M who sells us his wood and who dropped round Thursday to talk about mowers and tractors and what we will need now we have the extra land) said that the weather was going to change and so Saturday, before it did so, Tod mowed our already too thick, long, wet grass, which then lay around in small heaps, ready to be picked up by unsuspecting passers-by and brought back into the house.

These are days for gardening: bright, clear and still cool enough to work right through.

On Saturday, I attacked the pampas grass at the back of the house, which needed a tidy. Tod grumbles that it cuts out the late afternoon sun and its tall plumes had been broken and scattered by "La tempête". The grass had a huge skirt of dead grey-brown blades which I tugged and raked out. Cutting back the fallen plumes I uncovered this year's green shoots, ringed in mauve, the colour of spring onions. Much of the centre is dead, but I left some of the rotten stalks as it is home to small creatures. I found two old nests (one still with an abandoned white egg) and disturbed a green tree frog. I think the hedgehog that Clara used to hunt hibernates under a pile of brown vegetation in the middle and our first summer it was sanctuary for a family of quail.

While working, I glanced up to see Tod (after cleaning the swimming pool) in shorts on the lounger under the bare branches of the silk tree, reading in the warmth of the afternoon sun.

This morning the sun is shining through a soft mist and despite Madame M's forecast, there is the promise of another good gardening day.

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