I cut turf today for the first time in this Glanmire house, in a north-east suburb of Cork, Ireland.
So what’s new…
Given that I’ve lived here for almost exactly a year, this is a remarkable morning. Not only the 7th fine morning in a row, but a Saturday when I’m in the company of my little family. I began with the effort to hammer in a piece of metal into the grass in order to put up something for hanging out the washing. (There are many domestic technical terms that I can’t remember or have never known, so I may resort to calling things ‘yokes’.)
The start of the work…
I used a hammer that was designed for knocking in nails. A piece of left-over skirting board on top and I was in action. The Wiffe and Grace held the fixture upright as I hit down into the soft wood. The risk of splinters made me ask Grace to pull back and shut her eyes. After a few blows, Grace wanted to do it, so I gave her the hammer and she got on with being Bobbie the Builder. She loves working, washing windows, mopping floors. I wonder how to encourage this habit while making progress with such tasks?
I need a sledgehammer. I thought to walk up to one of our neighbours for a bit of mithel (sharing of equipment in rural Ireland so as to achieve such necessities as cutting and stacking the hay). When I saw the woman of the house in her pajamas, I didn’t have the heart or cheek to ring the bell.
So that task remains unfinished.
The vision… the soil…
The gardening job I’ve set my eyes on doing is the laying of gravel on the thin strip of useless ground that lies along the side of our house.
No light gets in there. It’s a mudtrap. Some of the neighbours have graveled their’s in good looking stone chips. Yesterday I bought a spade.
This morning I’ve started skimming off the surface soil. But I don’t know how deep to go, so I think I’ll take a ruler to one of the houses that’s still unoccupied and measure how the job’s been done by an expert.
Damp and not too heavy is how I’d describe the soil.
I’ve put it in a pile intending to reuse it in the flowerbed I imagine myself building later.
What’s going on around me…
I find myself imagining myself at work in the garden, cutting, fertilising, planting, supporting, designing… I woke wanting to go swimming for exercise but I’ve found the soil ‘removaling’ just as satisfying. I had to break off because Grace was having her hair washed and combed, and first cut (another story). I was called in to distract her with a story, while the Wiffe brushed out the knots.
The job’s unfinished, like one of those many books I have on the go. And I’ve decided I’m going to write a weekly blog post charting my progress as a gardener. My only claim to fame in this respect is that I once designed, built, planted and maintained a rockery on Gayhurst Road, London Fields, Hackney, England. That was about 1984. Last year I bought a bag of dafodil bulbs and left them in the shed until they’d sprouted shoots and got thrown out. I imagined a long wall with magnificent yellow flowers in spring. And that was all I had the energy and motivation to do.
Photographs of progress in the garden and in me …
Now I feel I have a project which will exercise me. I’ll photograph progress and show it here. Remembering that any activity, however small, involves energy, motivation, thought and potentially satisfying feelings. I’m not setting out to change the world, but I am going to change the world (says he, thinking of that butterfly that underpins chaos theory).
I could do with advice…
I would be very grateful for your advice and inspiration. Anything that comes to you would be a welcome surprise.