Soil

8.22am

Haven’t seen rain in at least a week. Its grey, dismal, all day drizzle rain. The daffodils in the flower box on the sill are shrivelling up. Scorched by the spring sun they are dying. Inside a green vase full of rotting daffodils, long dead, and the soil bouquet pot of daffodils next to the vase still bloom with vitality.

The potatoes are hitting nicely and next to these red onions and chalots held inside the red of string bags. The next sunny day and they can go in the ground. I am glad that I spent yesterday on the allotment with Naoise. I had meant to go on a walk to gaddings dam with some friends and their children. I did walk with them for about 300 yards before deciding to turn back with Naoise after he fell in a muddy puddle and needed a change of clothes. I was happy to turn back. I felt angry and couldn’t manage the casual conversations or the company. When I am in a foul mood I would rather be alone.

It was the right decision to make, I had such a lovely day with Naoise. Just me and him. Its good not to be distracted by others lives, however wonderful and interesting that they may be, I find socialising exhausting and draining and often I would just be happy to create a world of my own for me and the boys and live in, uninterrupted and safe.

The allotments location is just under the moor, sheltered by two outcrops of jagged rocks. Above the rocks, rooks circle.  The birds love this place. Its away from the road and there are plenty of trees, seeds and worms and grubs to pick off from newly turned soil. I cleared a patch of soil of weeds and rubble, I found lots of big fat wriggling worms and I carefully lifted each of the worms that I found onto another bed, I would hate to cut one with the blade of my spade.

I took my fork and broke up all the heavy clods of clay. Then I racked. I racked the soil, levelled and smoothed it out as flat and neat as a clean cotton sheet placed on a bed. Naoise dug a large hole in a patch of soil next to the compost. He dug a big hole in the spot where him and his friends had played earlier in the week. Where they had dug deep holes, then thrown heads of purple sprouting broccoli and covered them up in the hope that these might grow.

Naoise dug and dug. He found roots and nothing. He poured water into the hole as he thought that this would make it easier to dig.

Later together we sprinkled the wild flower seeds into small shallow lines I had made with the edge of the spade. Its always miraculous when seeds actually grow into plants. One year I planted beetroot seeds which never germinated, it was a strange cold wet year where most of the crops failed. The allotment is a good place to lean about nurture and failure.

The day was not all heavenly. We did disagree about seeds, Naoise wanted to plant everything in the box, I tried to explain that some needed soaking, some needed to be grown from seed in small pots at home, and that some just would not grow in the patch that he had dug in the shade. He was defiant and would not listen. I placed the rucksack high up in a tree, but I removed it when he began to climb with metal spade in hand. Instead I left him for a while t calm down and locked the bag and its precious seed in the car. I cannot afford to let him go wild with the seeds. He does need to try and listen, and I need to learn. When I returned, Naoise apologised. Ignore. Praise. It does seem to be affective. I hate these disagreements. I must try and be more patient. I think I shouted. I shouldn’t shout. I should just walk away. Ignore. Praise. Ignore. Praise. And remember that he is only little, he is only learning. Its hard to get it right. What is right anyway?


Back home Naoise painted a plaster egg with poster paint, I wanted him to help me to plant seeds in small pots in the yard, but he just wanted to paint. We settled to be content in each others creativity. Production. Preparation.


Later, I dropped Naoise at his friends house. In the garden his friend was playing with frogs, lifting each from the pond into a plastic bucket. He happily showed Naoise Alice and Arthur. He was so confident with their little slimy pulsating leggy bodies. He has a lot of frogs to name. Later Naoise and his friend placed the frogs into a wooden truck and let them ride down the grass slope at high speed, one frog jumped out but the other made it to the bottom of the garden. They are all my pets, he said proudly. 


I went out with my friend to a gallery opening in Todmorden, the willow weavings of baskets and boxing hares were wonderful but the paintings hung too high on the walls were dull, predictable landscapes of rock and field, heather and bluebell meadow. The sort of paintings that flatten out any stroke of the brush, any touch of the human hand, the sort of paintings that leave nothing to the imagination, the sort of paintings I detest and that would have done better to remain photograph.


 

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