Small tasks but immensely strong

The past four weeks we’ve been spending more time in—and I suppose on—the garden. Any proper gardener would be warning us to begin in earnest right now (and probably sucking in his teeth when he did so) but as we have no potting shed, and no desire to actually plant anything until we’ve worked out exactly what’s already in the soil—which needs at least one summer of growth—and as we’re not proper gardeners… we’re happy right now with less potting and more pottering.

So far the still-dark evenings and mediocre weather have meant we haven’t done much, but the small progress we’ve made still feels so much more of an accomplishment than most things we do from day to day. K. mentioned that dark-greenies often get petition fatigue, and that the powerlessness, or at any rate power’s meagre measurings-out, inherent in the political process, often leave them with a feeling of an absence of having done anything, a hole into which accomplishments must be poured. Enter the long list of simple tasks in the garden at this point.

The freshly cut edge around parts of the border isn’t much to look at, but its relative sharpness still makes me vaguely proud. I even managed to avoid slicing through one of the largest horizontal roots on our poor beleaguered tree when I did it, and there’s potash and “super-phosphate” dug around the same. Bushes are being trimmed in order of nothing in particular, and we discovered the route linking us to the footpath behind the house weren’t in fact isolated wee stepping stones, but vastly overturfed and otherwise contiguous, massive paving slabs, now clear and no longer slippy with mud and mould.

These are small triumphs, and it would probably only take six months of neglect to nullify many of them. But they rest warmly in the heart, comfortable and jolly despite their lightness. Already there’s more sun on the daffodils or crocuses or whatever they might be coming up in the border. And our untended front strip, all mud and dust and no sun at all, has suddenly turned into a flower bed. It might only last a month, but for that month it’s ours, with a view to spare for any neighbours or passers-by that might care to look.

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