Here on Pig Row the east wind blows and the spring grass in the fields in front of the house turns into a never ending tide; the grass ripples, pulsates and drives onto a shore it never finds. In the depths of winter the grass is replaced with snow freezing in a frothing breakwater that banks foot after foot of a gleaming white snow on the roads. It cuts us off from the outside world.
Yet, here in Pig Row, there is that feeling that we are outside the hustle and bustle of the real world. From our parlour window we can see the distant A-road over those rippling fields and twice a day we watch the traffic slow, halt and hiccup its way into the nearest town. At the same time, in the small lane that runs in front of our house, a sole, slow tractor, big, red and rusting passes carrying hay.
They are two different worlds, a finger pinch apart. I have no desire to bring them together.
The east wind highlights the magic of Pig Row but the wind comes at the worst time for me.
It has come in the midst of hardening off new plants.
In a search and rescue mission, I, my wife and boy wonder toddler, ferry six inch sweet peas back under glass, likewise NE Plus Peas are covered and carried under cover, my wife and I umm and ahh about the onions in modules – a nifty trick to get ahead of the weather and east wind at Pig Row. We plant them in modules, under glass, to give them a head start, they form good root systems and the birds think twice before tackling them when they are planted out. In the end after all the umms and ahhs and boy wonder’s pfffffts they come back into the greenhouse. We have to hold the door still as we move in and out with trays for fear that the whole greenhouse will catch like a sail, uproot and set out across the moors with the whole allotment. We do this ferrying whilst balancing boy wonder on our hips, taking turns to be poked, kissed and giggled at; he bats at the invisible wind and spends most of the time missing the wind and hitting my wife and I. He adds his own wind halfway through the rescuing of the plants which means we have a quick trip back to the house and a nappy change. As we clamber down the hillside, boy wonder grabs a lone loganberry in a pot and pulls it over with a delighted screech followed by hand clapping and head butt to the chest.
It is the fifth time in the last quarter of an hour that this plant has fallen over, thankfully each time a head butt was not involved. It is the only plant from my old garden, Drovers, still confined to a pot. I securely tie it to the fence with twine as my wife heads of with the raspberry blowing toddler in a grip that suggest restraint rather than adoration, toddlers legs and arms are dangerous weapons yet to be harnessed by the military. Thankfully for us all a blackbird is blown backwards over the garden and boy wonder’s attention goes with it.
East winds like this normally precede a storm but there are no clouds and the final joke is that the sun blazes down on us all and we are in danger of getting sunburnt and then blown away.
Wind is just one of the problems with having a garden on an exposed hillside. Wind is just one of the problems with having a toddler.
Just a few hundred feet makes a difference to a garden and parenting.
Yesterday, I stopped off at our old garden, Drovers. Drovers is a small cottage garden a mere three hundred feet above sea level. At Drovers the garden is blooming, it is crammed full of forget me knots punctuated by herbs, tulips, burgeoning rhubarb and raspberries in full leaf and flower.
At Pig Row, at one thousand one hundred feet above sea level, the forget me knots have yet to flower. If they set seed from here in this weather I would be responsible for the whole of Yorkshire becoming a froth of blue next spring. Up at this level, the rhubarb hugs the ground and swears at the fact it was ever lifted from Drovers, the raspberries are just sending up new shoots and the stalwart bully of herbs, mint, has died in the winter.
The wind though passes and until then as the temperature plummets with the sun, we move inside, give boy wonder milk in his favourite cup, his favourite biscuit, digestive and his favourite toy, Iggle Piggle. My wife and I drink tea, eat cake and then all three of us scrunch our toes in front of a roaring fire and the lane outside our house is silent and the A road beyond can mind its own business.