I have previously written about my gardening buddie – Fudge – who has often been my constant gardening companion. She will hunt for rabbits, or trot around the garden keeping herself busy while I get on with the less arduous task of digging, weeding, or planting. But in recent weeks she has not always had the necessary patience for gardening and has developed a pentient for wandering off across the nearby fields and – more worryingly – crossing main roads. In the old days we would have put any such misdemeanours down to “being led astray” by her sister Truffle next door, when the “fuckwits” would disappear for long evenings running through fields of maize returning with faces like beaten prize-fighters.
During my mother illness I erected what was commonly described as “giraffe fencing” around the property to corale the dogs. But after mum’s passing, and Truffle’s out-of-contract transfer to Heaven’s Gate (the animal rescue centre, not the actual portal) the higher fences have gradually come down as Fudge always seemed less motivated than her sister to abscond. But like a secne from Les Miserables, the barriers are being erected again as Fudge once more goes in search of her Field of Dreams. It seemed I had managed to make the garden escape proof and yet she was still managing to disappear. We thought of tagging her, or using hidden cameras or perhaps slyly following her to see where she was getting out. Until it dawned on me that, hey – she’s just a DOG. So I went into next door’s drive while Verity held her, and when I called, Fudge gleefully joined me via a circuitous and cunning route under the oil tank. Job done. She was so pleased to see me….but now that escape route is blocked and the dog yesterday got so bored in the garden she scratched on the kitchen door to be let back in to the house.
So with Fudge spending less time in the garden, it was a such a lovely day that Claire decided she would join me in digging the afternoon away. She had decided she would like to dig the nettles up which are imminently going to engulf the chicken run, but after ten minutes she had dug one nettle and got stung five times (“didn’t you wear gloves?” “Yes – but they are the ones you bought me and they are are crap”). She found me in the greenhouse, potting up, and asked if there was anything else she could do – like planting. I offered her the chance to plant some runner beans, but she she pointed out she did not have the right gloves to do this (she is justifiably wary of infections after chemo last year) and as I had my hands dirty I could carry on with that. No, Claire thought, she would go and pull up the remaining purple sprouting ready for me to dig it over. A nice easy job, with quick results. A perfect job for Claire..
Fifteen minutes later I hear an ejaculation and look up to see that she has just put the last plant into the wheel barrow, only for it to tip over and spill all the contents. She is not happy. Another ten minutes pass and I hear more cursing and see that Claire is now tackling the stakes on which I had placed netting to keep pigeons off. The stakes are further into the ground than Claire would have expected and are proving to be difficult to get out (whole). Eventually I see her extract a post, though up to a third of it probably remains below ground level as Claire throws the offending article like a javelin towards the pile of broken timbers she has previously removed. There is not a lot of peace love and understanding in evidence.
I have a brief flash back and think how it would have been for my parents with me helping them in the garden. It became a bit of a catch phrase “A job for you, James” and I am sure that I probably had similar tantrums. I am later told that I looked all to smug and happy in my greenhouse as my other half was throwing lumber, but I was taking the time – protected by my glass house – to muse on what good therapy gardening is.