City to County
James is getting ready to fire up the lawn mower... in a while
IT’S SATURDAY morning and I’m sitting on my lounge sofa with a cup of coffee in hand, staring out through the patio doors into my back garden with a sense of duty and dread. Now that spring has sprung, I have a duty to tackle the jungle that’s grown outside my window over the last six months and I’m dreading the hard work ahead.
There was a time when I would sit on a cheap folding chair on a tiny balcony of an even tinier London flat dreaming of the day I’d be the proud owner of a bowling-green lawn, pristine decking and maybe even one of those serious, grown-up barbeques middleaged men are so proud of.
The thing about a balcony that’s only just big enough for two chairs and a budget barbeque (used once and left to rust) is that it is relatively easy to keep clean and tidy. After the long winter a quick sweep of the deck and a dusting down of the furniture would quickly have you back in business for spring.
But from my lounge sofa the garden I left in September (and have barely stepped into since) is now unrecognisable. My once immaculate decking is covered in a shiny, greeny-brown slime, a previously identifiable gravel path seems to abruptly disappear under a sprawl of unidentifiable foliage half way down the garden and where I remembered a flower bed running around the edge of the lawn I now seem to have weeds and yet more grass.
Like any man, when I do get around to preparing the garden for our fortnight or so of British summer I plan to start with an activity I know I can excel at – waking a tired-looking lawn mower from its hibernation for the first cut of the year. Of course, with a petrol mower it’s never as easy as wheeling it out and instantly gliding effortlessly through the long, tangled grass. After a winter sitting dormant in a cold, damp shed I know it’ll be a test of patience and brawn to coax the lethargic machine into life.
And I know the satisfaction of a neatly-mown lawn will quickly wear off and I’ll then need to start pacing around the once-tidy flower beds and borders trying to distinguish a mass of weeds from the green sprouts of something I vaguely remember being quite attractive
After a winter sitting dormant in a cold, damp shed I know it’ll be a test of patience and brawn to coax the lethargic machine into life
last summer. My neighbour will occasionally provide some green-fingered pointers over the garden fence. “Well, that should’ve been pruned a couple of months ago,” “I’d cut that back,” or just “yes, yes, that is a weed”.
I’ll perhaps sit for a bit longer before I get started. Maybe even have another coffee. It is the weekend after all. After that, if anyone needs me I’ll be in the garden.