Fill the cup and don’t say when

I’m having great difficulty in finding the drive to catch up with work in the garden this spring. Gardening, to me, is growing vegetables, as I expect flowers and girly stuff like that to be able to manage on its own – also I have been discouraged by 20 years of living with ground elder and, as it can’t be got rid of – not when it’s among shrubs – I ignore it except to notice that the flowers are actually quite pretty.

But vegetable growing is my passion. So what, strictly in gardening terms of course, has happened to my libido?

I have thought of several reasons, such as the cold spring which has made everything late, the succession of colds I’ve had which make me wheeze if I exert myself (well, unless it’s something I really want to do, in which case I seem to find the breath and the energy) and the fact that, now I grow veg for the shop it’s turned into a job instead of a hobby. I’ve even wondered if, now there’s a baby in the family I am directing all my caring and nurturing side to her and no longer need to raise plants – but that seems a bit fanciful.

I think, perhaps, it’s a reflection of the rest of my life. Gardening used to be how I relaxed. I longed to get out into the greenhouse, to pot up seedlings and tend the plants, to check, eagerly, how each radish and lettuce was growing and anticipate, dribblingly, the day when I could pick the first of the new harvest. A whole meal would be planned around baby broad beans, asparagus, tiny new potatoes. And I’m sure that, when that time comes in a few weeks, I will be just as excited (look, I lead a dull enough life for that to be how I get my kicks).

When my children were little and squabbled, the greenhouse was my refuge. Anyone was welcome to come and join me, to work or chat or just watch, but tranquillity was insisted upon. It was no use to come and complain about little brother or big sister, it was not allowed. And later there were other tensions and stresses. Now, these don’t exist. Middle age is rather an enjoyable place to be. My children are grown up and lovely and no longer dependent on me, I no longer have aged parents to be responsible for (yes, this is two-edged, but being a ‘carer’ is a burden, even if willingly shouldered) and my husband and I run our business in a low-key way that we can easily manage. We’re both busy with our various interests, but we can afford to be quite disorganised about it all as we know we can catch up when it matters.

I think I’ve just said that I’ve become so lazy that I can’t be bothered to pot up the tomatoes. Maybe I should sharpen the razor-blade. Or, as the song concludes, go for the six parts of gin to one part vermouth.

Half past six. Time for a glass of something, certainly. And time to water the greenhouse.

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