Like A Pig In Muck.

By alison May 7, 2007 26 Comments 4 Min Read

Auricula

I am very excited.  There is dirt in my nails that no amount of scrubbing will remove,  and in the nicest possible sense of the word, I am filthy.

We tell ourselves that nothing has changed. That we have achieved very little and our goals are as far off in the yonder as they ever where. Because we  are haunted by the sentiment  that life must move on, we suffer a shiver of disappointment when we look back and see that despite monumental daily
effort, life today is just what is was then and life tomorrow will be exactly the same because we do not have the will, the money, or the wherewithal to make it different.

But we do ourselves an injustice when we fail to stand back and look at the minutiae of our lives from a different perspective. When we do not recognise that every teeny weeny teeny step towards our domestic goals are steps in the right direction. Steps towards a future where the front garden is awash with lavender, the kitchen isn’t quite as dilapidated as it is today, and there is at last a sensible place to store shoes you had forgotten you owned…

Mark and I lived in this house together for seven years before he upped sticks.  But in that time we never once shared a bottle of wine in the garden.  We didn’t peruse  garden centres looking for the perfect container  plants, eat bowls of strawberries decked with home-grown mint, nor plan for the day our new baby would want to scatter sand in every potted rose we had taken the time to nurture with the potassium enriched blessing that is a mouldy banana. Indeed for seven years the backyard was a wilderness we only ventured into to put out the bins or hang out the washing.  I don’t know why. I only know that the garden wasn’t part of the comfortable rut we had buried ourselves neck deep in…

Now it is what it will be  until Summer brings it to glorious life, or a lottery win scatters pound notes like seeds into the terracotta pots I have buried in mud for three months at  a time to age them. And yesterday I found myself embarking on Project Lavender Postage Stamp. Re-inventing the front garden to tell the world that here within lives a Vintage Housekeeper in her glorious prime, not a woman so self pitying, she wouldn’t care if weeds grew up the walls and blocked out every inch of light, while cobwebs  spun through her hair and her Babba found himself the next big thing in feral kids…

And so it was that I found myself sitting on  a flowery cushion in the weed strewn earth of the teeniest patch
of garden probably on the planet.  Without my lilac gardening gloves
on. Or even trousers tucked into my socks so worms wouldn’t wiggle their way
up my thighs. Digging with my  bare hands at the roots of the weed that
has had me harassed for twelve months, and saying Good Morning to every
stranger who passed me. Once tugging at the roots of a particuarly mean looking specimen so hard  I tumbled backwards, legs splayed, just as the vicar walked briskly past beaming a great big "Howdy!" at me, while I struggled to recover from both the indignity and indeed the ludicrous matter of a man of the cloth  throwing American greetings around like so many  dandelions.

But mad vicars aside my point is this:  I keep finding myself feeling  edgy. Feeling as though the past twelve months have given me an opportunity to prove a point and  I have nothing to show for it.  But it isn’t true.  Baby steps have proved to be huge strides in disguise. Here is the woman who last year would have screamed in horror at the thought of perching her bottom in mud. Who felt exhausted at the very idea of pulling out a single weed and simply didn’t understand the miracle that is gardening. Even on a tiny scale. Here is a women who, in so many respects, got brave

So  now at dusk I light a tiny collection of tea lights in storm lanterns scattered around the garden, and I wander about plucking out snails, pinching out unruly shoots and choosing to miss Coronation Street for the bliss that is watching things I have planted spring to life, before regretfully putting my precious auriculas to bed in the laundry room and whispering goodnight to my baby tomatoes. New rituals that are mine and mine alone.

My fingernails are dirty. I have a new leather-bound parchment papered journal ready to document the plans I am making for Project Postage Stamp, the blackbirds have found themselves flummoxed by a protective layer of pretty broken vintage crockery  around the base of my plants and  I am learning that just like in nature there is no hurrying what will not be hurried. Not puddle jumping three year olds, splintered hearts or a decent bowl of soup….

Take baby steps. Find a way of marking your progress and mix yourself a  Mojito in quiet celebration of all that will, no doubt, one day be.

Oh and find a place to store your shoes because there is no hope for the kitchen.

Other Things To Do At BrocanteHome

26 Comments

  1. HeatherJean says:

    Bless your heart! It's the simplest things on this earth that are the most precious. I am so proud of you and where you are now, 12 months later.

  2. Nonnie says:

    You really have taken huge steps in the last year. Good for you. Project postage stamp sounds lovely.

  3. Lovely! Congratulations on not only your garden, but on your attitude!
    God bless.
    Terri

  4. Lovely! Congratulations on not only your garden, but on your attitude!
    God bless.
    Terri

  5. Jamie says:

    I feel like this is such a cliche thing to say on blogs, but this post came along at just the right time. Just yesterday I was feeling so despairing about the slow progress we are making on our home renovations, and how much work there still is to be done. Time and money prevent us from getting it all done at once, and sometimes I negate all the little steps we've made.

  6. melissa says:

    You said, "When we do not recognise that every teeny weeny teeny step towards our domestic goals are steps in the right direction."
    And I love that. Small steps are important, but sometimes it seems we're backing up more than we're advancing. Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. melissa says:

    You said, "When we do not recognise that every teeny weeny teeny step towards our domestic goals are steps in the right direction."
    And I love that. Small steps are important, but sometimes it seems we're backing up more than we're advancing. Thanks for the encouragement.

  8. Cheryl says:

    Hello! I've been lurking on your blog for awhile…love your writing! Today's entry was perfect timing for me. Thank you for your honesty. Cheryl

  9. Helen says:

    Alison, I think you (and others) would enjoy "Gardening down a rabbit hole" by Josephine Saxton (not in print, but available used on Amazon) It's about gardening in a truly tiny space, as opposed to the much larger gardens that so many books irritatingly refer to as "small".

  10. Helen says:

    Alison, I think you (and others) would enjoy "Gardening down a rabbit hole" by Josephine Saxton (not in print, but available used on Amazon) It's about gardening in a truly tiny space, as opposed to the much larger gardens that so many books irritatingly refer to as "small".

  11. martha bunch says:

    Ahhh, perfect timing! Spent the morning transplanting hostas, took a bath and two naproxen, then went to your blog for a little treat. You helped me understand myself. Understand why I got such deep satisfaction from these small changes in my back yard. Tonight, and tomorrow too, as I stretch sore muscles, I will remember your wise words and feel accomplished. Thanks ever so much.

  12. martha bunch says:

    Ahhh, perfect timing! Spent the morning transplanting hostas, took a bath and two naproxen, then went to your blog for a little treat. You helped me understand myself. Understand why I got such deep satisfaction from these small changes in my back yard. Tonight, and tomorrow too, as I stretch sore muscles, I will remember your wise words and feel accomplished. Thanks ever so much.

  13. Bea says:

    What we have to "show" for our efforts isn't always tangible. My own impression is that compared to a year ago, you're now a lot more honest with yourself and are finally asking yourself some difficult questions that really needed to be formed. Even if it's because outside circumstances pushed you to do it, you're now requiring more of yourself. Reading your earliest posts, it sometimes seemed to me that you weren't really facing up to things that were too unpleasant to consider. For example, you would occasionally comment that you'd never gotten married because the two of you just "never got around to it;" however, you certainly seemed to find plenty of time to travel to other people's weddings. You don't seem to go into that type of evasive thinking anymore, and if you've really gotten down to the nitty-gritty of facing unpleasant truths, that's a monumental accomplishment that you have to "show" for your efforts. The courage to own up to who/what we really are and the recognition of how we've actively created both our successes and failures can't be measured by the the weedy garden or the crumbling house (thank goodness). However, what you will have to "show" are great new relationships, improved old ones, discarded dysfunctional ones, and a deepened happiness with your own company (even without the drinks and violet cremes). And, as always, your gain is Finn's as well, which is truly the icing on the cake.

  14. Amy says:

    Good for you! I knew you were making progress 🙂

  15. leabertdot says:

    How apt that you have taken to gardening, as you are blossoming and growing so beautifully.

  16. mandy says:

    glad to hear that the garden is coming along, I too have a small garden, that I've started from scratch this year, it is very satisfying to watch it take shape, with a loony labrador helping !!!!!! and bringing flowers for you to plant, that you really did not want, and the kitchen floor does not stand a chance, but it's all good fun!

  17. mandy says:

    glad to hear that the garden is coming along, I too have a small garden, that I've started from scratch this year, it is very satisfying to watch it take shape, with a loony labrador helping !!!!!! and bringing flowers for you to plant, that you really did not want, and the kitchen floor does not stand a chance, but it's all good fun!

  18. Shar says:

    A very lovely post…I love your
    writings…and your new garden sounds beautiful.

  19. Have you watched the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun"?

  20. Have you watched the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun"?

  21. Amethyst says:

    Beautiful post… Unfortunately, I live in Greensburg Kansas and a tornado wiped away my budding garden…along with my house… I will have to wait to find a new place and start over!

  22. Amethyst says:

    Beautiful post… Unfortunately, I live in Greensburg Kansas and a tornado wiped away my budding garden…along with my house… I will have to wait to find a new place and start over!

  23. Alison, I just wanted to say thank you. Without sounding corny, your post is just what I needed. Belive me, sometimes we can all have a weedy garden or a broken window pane and just grow complacent and not do anything about it without really knowing. It does not take a relationship break down to realise it, what I needed was your post and a good think! Have not stopped cleaning all day. I used to have primulas and miss them so much, that I must rush out and buy some. Nothing like soil on your bare hands and a good excuse to put some yummy Cath Kidston hand cream on them afterwards. I can't thank you enough for opening up my eyes again.

  24. Heather says:

    Those plant pots are absolutely gorgeous. I'm stealing a moment while at work to visit you. Hope you are enjoying your little bloggy break – I have had a blogging break (unintentional) for over a month and I miss it but at the same time have got so much done!! hehe

  25. Heather says:

    Those plant pots are absolutely gorgeous. I'm stealing a moment while at work to visit you. Hope you are enjoying your little bloggy break – I have had a blogging break (unintentional) for over a month and I miss it but at the same time have got so much done!! hehe

  26. zaas says:

    Pretty nice site, wants to see much more on it!

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