Two for the Price of One

The 1st of March is here and what a day to arrive!  The sun was shining, jumpers were cast aside and the daffodils I planted in the allotment borders late last year were triumphantly trumpeting for St David’s Day!  So, not to waste the weather, I dug two new beds, filled drums with manure (these will be used for growing squash), and I also took some time out to watch the world go by from my new favourite perch. sit Collage

I’m sure this spring ‘apéritif’ won’t last and will quickly be replaced by the stroppy efforts of a rejected winter lashing out one last time before retreating north with his tail behind his legs to allow his gentle cousin spring to properly take up the mantle. poo Collage

But it has been a week of new arrivals as the polytunnel also turned up.  Much to Soph’s disbelief, and not wanting to rock the windowsill incident of 2015 any further, I should have warned her that a 30kg box nearly six foot high would be arriving.  Getting home late one night, I had to push my way into the house as the delivery man had left it in our doorway.  Crouched behind the package, like Cato from the Pink Panther movies, waiting to knock me out with one swift roundhouse kick was my wife, eager for an explanation.

I don’t know if this is something you have observed in your relationship, dear readers, but at this time of year as us gardeners monopolise windowsills with seed trays, fill the house with newly-delivered garden paraphernalia and generally dominate the house with all things growing, allotmenteering becomes a very singular experience.  ”He’s got his seeds on the windowsill”, ”Another garden delivery for him” and ”He’s always up to something on the plot”.

Yet a few months from now with all that hard work behind me, as the fruits of my labours hang ripe from the trees and the vegetables from those weed-free plots start emerging from their rich beds, the word ‘he’ is forgotten and in its place is a new word, a word that arrives with the warm weather, the late summer evenings and the growing organic bounty.. ‘we’.  ‘Look at what we have grown”, ”We have grown a lot of vegetables this year” and ”We have been working hard on the plot all year!”

But joking aside, on that winter’s morning when I’m digging those paths, in the coldest of downpours when I’m wheelbarrowing that muck, and in that moment when my back can’t handle another turn of the spade, I’m always appreciative of the person at home working hard to turn those vegetables into something creative and tasty.  On that afternoon when I forget to pack a lunch, it’s always a joy to discover someone’s left me a flask of homemade soup in my rucksack. And when I get home tired and covered in filth, it’s lovely to know a certain someone is always  waiting to hear of my plot adventures and to reward me with a cup of tea and a cuddle.

The allotment journey is like a rollercoaster ride, full of ups and downs, thrills and spills.  But like any ride, it’s a lot more fun when there’s two of you.  Not just ‘me’… but ‘us’.

Hapus Dydd Gŵyl Dewi!

Daffs

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Am I Being Unfaithful?

A Bank Holiday ahead and an extra day on the allotment, the decision is easy.  I put on my weathered clothes, slip on my wellies and remember I need a few bits from the garden shed for the allotment.  It’s here where my day changes.  I step into the garden with the sun on my back and the garden bursting with life, but she’s not happy.  She knows where I’m going.  No matter how I try to hide it she knows.  The clothes give it away, the musky smell of dried earth on my sweater, there’s no mistaking that aroma: I have a date and it’s not with her.

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But when did she first suspect?  When I said I wouldn’t be planting vegetables anymore.  ‘But darlin’ think of all that extra space.  I can get you more flowers’.  Or was it the recent t-shirt tanline that gave it away, ‘I can’t keep wearing long sleeves, summer’s coming’.  Maybe she saw the dirt under my nails and knew it wasn’t hers.

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I’m feeling guilty, even reluctant to go, but I know up on that allotment there’s a plot waiting for my gardener’s touch.  Inviting me to sink my hands into her warm soil, shape her beds and tend to her weeds.  In return she promises me a bumper crop and a place where I can escape from reality, if only for a few hours.

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I suppress my guilt, turn to my garden and make promises that I’ll water her tomorrow, maybe treat her to a wicker trellis or some solar lights.  But she knows I won’t be back today, to her they’re just empty promises.

How do the others do it?  Juggle them both without a care in the world?  Surely ‘heartless’ and ‘gardener’ are not phrases that sit together.  What to do, what to do?  But as I continue to write and the guilt continues to mount I turn to the snaps I took earlier today of that enticing plot that always has a smile for me and I know, deep inside I know, I’ll never leave her.  She had me the first time I pulled back her tarpaulin.

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