Rain and Fruit

Here on Pig Row the rains have arrived, there are yells and applauds from over boundary walls and hedges. At one in the morning I find an aging neighbour in the middle of the lane dancing and splashing in puddles. 

I call him Native American George, he dances and rain comes. 

It beats the plan B which involved a cat that lives on the nearby landfill, Boz. 

Boz was earmarked for a sedate sacrifice to the rain Gods; this involved the little old ladies of Pig Row knitting tiny jumpers, tiny bobble hats and tiny mittens. They then planned to dress Boz up in them. The little old ladies would then takes turns petting Boz, passing him like an illegal drug and gossiping about dry soil, the state of tea, biscuits and sloppy jam making. 

Boz has escaped this fate and he is still a cat who walks with the kind of fear that shouts, I could have ended up on page five of the local paper in a purple tartan tam o shanter. 

The gossip turns from Boz to my rhubarb. My long suffering rhubarb dug up from my old garden, Drovers, has been in the front garden, in a bucket and for the last month has sulked in the dry earth. No matter how many bucket loads of water I doused it with it sat their limply mouthing bog off every time I passed. Now the rains have been and the rhubarb is positively pornographic in size, and is insulting neighbours and can be seen from space. 

There have been complaints from the International Space Station. 

The chickens avoid, blushing and preening, they don blinkers every time they pass it.

The rhubarb is not alone in its bid to be seen. The newly planted fruit bushes, planted in late February as bare rooted plants, have put on a mass of green growth and fruit. Back in February, I braved the winds to plant and prune back hard, Gooseberry Leveller – a stalwart of northern gardens for over a century, Gooseberry Pax ¬– a fairly modern red variety, Red Currant Red Lake, Black Currant Ben Connan and Wellington XXX  - denoting size of berry and not a top shelf fruit as one of my neighbour’s asked (various prices, Buckingham Nurseries, http://www.hedging.co.uk). 

Another saviour from Drovers is an Iceberg rose, the poor plant is suffering from the rain. Cut back hard a few months ago, the rain has given it an opportunity to send out pencil thickness wands full of flowers and green fly. I spend ten minutes between rain clouds squishing them between finger and thumb, becoming the quintessential green fingered gardener.

The rain does not keep us out of the garden.

The saga of my wife’s office continues.

Even in the rain.

My father in law and I discover the site for the office is not level in any direction. A passing chicken shows us this as we see it climb up hill using mountaineering tackle. 

The site is not level in any direction and is subject to a weird magnetic field that effects the accuracy of four spirit levels. 

We dig, we fill, we chuck in barrow after barrow of rubble. We build a former out of decking – the best use for it – fill the former in with more rubble and create earthworks to rival the Great Wall of China. I become afraid that we will receive further complaints from the International Space Station or from the little old ladies who love Boz in knitted things Society. By the end of the day, backs smart, ache, forearms hang limply as we are forced to do the worst of jobs, mixing concrete in a barrow by hand. 

The ballast and cement are the only building materials to come on site and are unavoidable. The nervous driver who delivers it to our garden has to back down a narrow lane that borders the back of our garden, he mutters, panics and hiccups his truck down the rutted track narrowly avoiding our dry stone wall. Boz the cat shows up, miffed and wearing a yellow tartan knitted tam o shanter. 

It’s all worth it in the end, the concrete dries quickly on the half we pour but the remaining half smiles coyly waiting for more rubble, more ballast, more cement and more swearing.


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