Thursday, 15 March 2007

Bonfires and Brownies

It's been a perfect day for gardening. Having done some essentials in the house I donned my boots and headed outside into the sunshine. I am amazed every year how excited I get about those first shoots of Spring. Having planted, rather belatedly (as with everything in my life!), some tulip, hyacinth and daffodil bulbs that I purchased with gusto in the autumn, it is such a joy to see them pushing through the soil.

I decided to give the place a tidy-up. I started by raking up the last of the autumn leaves from the borders that have been left blanketing the soil over the winter. I think the risk of frost is now minimal. In fact this year has been exceptional for its lack of those magical mornings when the sun slants through the naked branches onto crisp fields of white; frozen droplets bejewel bare twigs, mist floats off the reservoir, and the air is crisp and sweet with negative ions. I feel a little cheated in that respect but am happy to embrace the energy of the new season.

With the collected leaves I started a bonfire. This is usually my husband's domain and he regularly boasts conflagrations which threaten the very existence of England's woods. My own efforts were a little tamer. Three firelighters and about 20 strikes of once-damp-now-dried matches later (I'm frugal at heart!) I had a gently smoking pile which managed to devour, elegantly enough, my generous portions of dry brown leaves and bright green leylandii clippings. I stood there contentedly, imagining myself in a soft focus photo straight off the pages of country living. I contemplated making a cup of tea and drinking it out of my enamel cup to complete the perfect picture but pulled myself together and instead patched up a bit of crumbling drystone wall around the edges of the compost heap. From there I moved seamlessly to do a bit of pruning of the blackcurrant and raspberry canes at the top of the garden before mercilessly attacking an encroachment of rhododendron onto my ill-fated vegetable patch. With that I had to go and get the children.

For my sins, I had an extra one today. Her mother is one of those frightening types who juggles a high-powered job with motherhood. She does presentations left, right and centre and the logistics of her life scares me rigid. Her child scares me fairly rigid too - tiny but packs a punch (just like her mother). I soothed them with lasagne (homemade - ha!) and chocolate mousse (not homemade - ha!) and pretty much left them to it while I attempted to watch Ready Steady Cook and Masterchef out of the corner of one eye. Eldest to Brownies (need that like a hole in the head); discussions with Brown Owl (also diminutive and scary) about the impending EASTER SALE - much hooting and twit-twooing about the chocolate tombola (which foolishly I volunteered to run) and sharp intakes of breath when I produced alcohol for the other tombola. It's a Methodist Church hall you understand. Oh dear, silly me, told off again. I removed it sheepishly like I'd just fallen off the Alchoholic's Anonymous wagon and looked forward to cracking it open the moment I got home.

It's now late, I've finished my wine, my husband's away, four little angels lie sleeping in their beds and I'm going to join them. It's been a happy day.

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