Meteorologically, winter is over. Spring was sprung on the 1st March and we can start to ease our gardening lockdown with the first sowings of the year. I have sorted through the welter of catalogues and now sit with packets of seeds lined up, ready to sow. Unlike previous years, I have not been hasty in getting the growing started. There are no seed trays precariously balanced on windowsills, urging the seedlings to get ahead. Instead of this, I have been busy dismantling the potting shed, building a new one next to the greenhouse to create the new Seedling Centre; a sort of horticultural neonatal hub.
The construction of this new potting shed was long in the planning but surprisingly swift in execution. I spent late nights poring over online images of sheds, studying YouTube videos of fit young men screwing bits of wood together. (That’s middle age for you). I still approach DIY with the confidence of an English Test opener venturing out to bat against the Indian spinners: I know what I should be doing, but simply can’t predict what challenge each task might present until I am in the middle of the job and there is no going back.
So, I was surprised by the relative ease with which we managed to put the shed together. I say ‘we’ because, like so many things in my life, I could not have done it without Mrs B. She was there to hold up the sides while I screwed them together, all the time providing observations like “the rats will like it under there” or “I am still worried that it will get wet down the back, against the wall” (the one place this shed will not actually get wet – because of the wall against which it is being built). But we managed to get it done in a couple or three days without falling out.
I have not always kept my temper around sheds. Back at the Old House when trying to locate some sports equipment in the “PE Shed”, my patience was ebbing as I struggled to extricate bags of hockeys sticks from beneath poorly stored tennis rackets. My patience evaporated in a cloud of expletives when a large plastic dog bed, that had been precariously stored on a beam, fell squarely onto my head. My cry of pain and retaliatory kick at the wall alerted my young children, who approached with caution. But any concern for their father disappeared when they saw my foot appear through the shed wall and remain there, stuck in the fractured ship-lap while their incandescent father continued to swear. For years thereafter, the merest mention of The Curious Incident of the Dog Bed in the Shed Time would reduce my children to hysterical laughters.
So, although I have not always found sanctuary in structural shiplap, the new potting shed gives me a glimpse of heaven and I feel a new dawn breaking in the Midlife Garden.