I like it. Growing stuff, that is. Today I had a general tidy of the allotment, which meant:
- Squishing caterpillars. I used to relocate them from my cabbages in some right-on, hippyish vein, but I realised I had to relocate thousands, and got bored of being beardy. I now squeeze them between my gloved and ungloved fingers, their green gunk squirting psychedelically across the ground. First of all, I feel squeamish; something about their lack of skeletal anything and their vibrancy seems wrong. Then, I get gung ho. Look at the damage on my brassica! They’ve made lace and filigree of my purple sprouting broccoli! Die, you b’stards, die! After nearly 30 minutes of this, I begin to feel squeamish again. My hands, the plants, and the ground surrounding them are coated with slimy caterpillar remnant. Yuk. I desist, and do something different. As an aside, caterpillar poop, at least on green vegetables, looks almost emerald like in its clustered intensity. Sure there’s a gelatinous gooeyness to it to, but in the right light and the right mood, it has a strange beauty.
- Weeding. It’s a constant battle. The allotment was fallow for eight years, and when I took it over a year and a half ago, I cut swathes through brambles and nettles and bindweed. Those weeds still invade and threaten to take over if I turn my back for longer than a week. The allotment, by the way, is a portion of land 75 yards by 25 yards. It’s quite a lot! And there must be billions of annual seeds in that ground, a goodly portion of which germinate on a regular basis.
- Picking vegetables and flowers. I grow both there as I prefer my garden flowers to stay in the garden, mostly. The photo above is from today, and I pick about as much every day. Bells of Ireland, dahlias and zinnias (I love the rich colours of late summer blooms); courgettes/zucchini (every vegetable growers’ glut this time of year), three types of bean, pimientos de Padron (if you’ve never had them… man…), cucumbers (normally three a day), potatoes, summer cabbage. I could’ve brought more home (no carrots, tomatoes etc), and left the artichokes I cut there by mistake (always tomorrow).
And the rest of the time is taken up with Gracie – who delights, infuriates and licks her way into my heart more each day. She spent the first week with us overbonding and not sleeping at night. She lost her voice. It’s now back. Now she’s good, except for the occasional whimper, even if the not getting up in the night routine (doing so was an utter disaster) means the occasional poo in a place where it’s least expected (in front of the fridge, this morning). And now we’re working on leaving her home alone for short periods each day, to be ready for the three hours she’ll be left for by the beginning of September. She’s currently my shadow, my lap her favourite spot, and my return from sleep in the mornings an orgiastic, pee-herself, delight, no matter how nonchalant and non-committal I am. But oh, she’s soft and loving and playful and sprightly and impish and silly too.
I love the way she sits up during her daytime naps, groans prolongedly, scratches her ear like a wind up toy nearing the end of its clockwork, and slumps back into a sleep, the groan subsiding as she does so. I love the way she has already learned to sit and stay. I love the way wiry hair, still baby soft, is developing on the tops of her ears, her eyebrows, chin, shoulders, back and legs. I love the way she delights in the world around her, even if it leads to destruction in the garden. Her favourite hobby is chewing bamboo. I’ve put this to good use. I’ve got one that’s a vicious runner at the root. All I need to do is expose the runners and she sets to severing them from the main plant. It’s easy to find a job for her to do. She’s not yet taken fully to her crate, her kongs, or being in a room where I’m not. But we’re going slowly.
I love the way she’s learned to look at me, waiting for our short but sweet training sessions (she’s training me, I’m sure of it). I even love the way I’m finding it impossible to get her into a down position. She’s too full of wriggle energy for any lure. In summary, she’s a wonder and though my eyes are tired from less sleep than I’m used to in my pampered, privileged life, that’s more than compensated for by a wagging tail, play time, and those almond eyes, whose colour has moved from blue to green to grey in a week and a half.
I love the way she lives for fetch games, and will retrieve anything, anything from the garden. I left Matt and her alone the other day and returned to find a heap of leaves and twigs in the living room, piled outside her preferred nest. I didn’t mind.
In short, I love her. She’s my favourite growing stuff.