Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Planting bulbs

Nodding Magpies chuckle at our cold expressions on this grey morning and a line of naked Lime trees wraps around us, giving little comfort. With sackfuls of Spring bulbs and a small quiver of spades loaded onto a wheelbarrow we head out into the gardens. In my experience it is always like this when we plant bulbs, short days pinned down under milky skies, a pause between flowers, dampness in the air and waiting for rain. This year we have 4500 bulbs to plant, and if we are lucky the weather conditions will remain stable until the task is complete, cold is one thing but wind chill equals pain. During the winter months we are wrapped up in every available item of clothing we can find, thermals, overalls, long sleeved t-shirts, jumpers, waterproofs, more jackets, fleeces, thermal liner gloves, several layers of socks, woolly hats etc.., anything that will stave off the cold! When it gets into your bones theres nothing that will shift it except a slow slide into a deep hot bath at the end of the day.

So we boldly go, brushing from our shoulders the moats of floating dust, and folding ourselves in half against the ground we push these small memories of flowers beneath a cold blanket of earth. Once in the ground we quickly forget where we have put them, God knows how the Jays and squirrels remember where they have buried their Winter stores! When a days worth of planting is done we scrape thick chocolate wedges of mud from our boots, balancing against spade handles, chatting and laughing in the gathering dusk and checking our watches against black ribbons of crows flying off to their beds. In the warmth of the bothy, cold hands cradle steaming mugs of tea, overalls get kicked under chairs, brief befuddled key moments come and go before we make our weary way out into a world of dark shapes and streaming tail lights.

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