“Don’t give me your excuses…. you’re a superhobbit and superhobbits don’t seize up!”
My son had phoned me to discuss his garden, even though I had just spent yet another nine hours in it, moving tons of earth and stone… and that is not dramatic exaggeration but simple fact. I’d done the same the for two days before too. At my age and with my bones, I am entitled to seize up.
The first day, labour and time being in short supply, I had hand-oiled and moved three hundred yards of timber to help out… and that was bad enough. Truth be told, it was only adrenalin that carried me through the next day. I had waited at home for my own delivery, dragged fence panels and posts into my garden and carried in three hundred pounds of cement mix. My back protested, but needs must when deliveries are ‘kerbside’.
Then I went to Nick’s, not the happiest of hobbits.
The garden, which should have taken just a few weeks, is now nearing its third month. It is looking stunning and the gardeners are doing an amazing job, but work has stopped for holidays… and it sort of stopped dead, leaving the garden a mess, with restricted access and no way Nick could just sit in the almost finished garden and enjoy it while everyone is away.
The nature of the work that has been done has left Nick unable to get out of his garden on his own all summer. He has only been able to get out if I take him in the manual wheelchair. I thought perhaps I could tidy round a bit and sort things so he could get out. I should have known better… it was one of those ‘domino’ moments, where every job required half a dozen more.
I managed to clear and rearrange the shed so he could get his bike and electric wheelchair out… but there was the small matter of two tons of earth, destined for the flower beds, parked right outside the gate. There was also a wheelbarrow and a shovel.. so the next day, I moved all the wood yet again and tackled the soil, while Nick wielded a bucket.
“You’ve caught the sun a bit…” said my son, snapping a picture that will not see the light of day if I have anything to do with it. I may have caught the sun… we are having a heatwave, after all… but the truth is, I was lugging a wheelbarrow full of muck that I had just shovelled and looked like an overboiled beetroot. A dripping overboiled beetroot at that.
I was refilling the pond I’d just cleaned, so I stood under the hosepipe to cool off. Which might explain the bouffant scarecrow hair.
Half the flower beds needed the damp proofing membrane fitting before they could be filled… and half of them were already half full of old soil that needed to be dug out before I could do so… oiling more wood, painting, planting wall baskets and collapsing occasionally on the bistro set I had assembled, just by way of a break.
The next job was a couple of tons of decorative stone that needed bringing in and spreading on the flower beds…
But we did manage a couple of excursions to garden centres too. Though that was a mixed blessing, as it meant lifting the wheelchair in and out of the car half a dozen times. Let alone planting two carloads of purchases… including the huge bag of bark that must have knocked an inch off my height.
‘All’ that remained was to clean the windows, move the solid stone lions and tackle the ten-foot-tall rosebush that bites.
However… by the end of today, the garden will at least look nearly finished. There are still a lot of jobs that need to be completed… building the waterfall, edging the pond and finishing the fencing, for a start… but not, I hope, by me. And not only can Nick get out if he wishes, he can also sit in comfort and peace in a tranquil oasis and he is very happy about that.
I would not have believed I could have done one day’s heavy, manual labour and still been able to move next morning, albeit awkwardly… let alone several days. Granted, I’m waking up groaning in the middle of the night when I try to turn in bed, definitely look like a beetroot again… and ache in places I had forgotten I had. But I have enjoyed being able to really work and still move next day, even though I know I will pay for it later.
And the moral of this story? Never volunteer? Think things through before rolling up your sleeves? No, the moral is never underestimate yourself…or, according to my son, an ageing superhobbit.