Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Daffodil as hairbrush and towel

Daffodil as hairbrush. And daffodil as towel. Yes, I promise I haven't lost the plot. Nor have I dug myself a pit of delusion, dreams and madness and jumped in. No, really, I haven't.
Not yet.

The daffodil is a thing of beauty - a yellow, trumpety flower on a long, thin stem, that bounces as it nods in the garden breeze. No part of it is bristly. No part could separate hairs in a manner necessary to serve as a conventional hairbrush. It is altogether too bendy and soft. It also lacks the absorbancy generally expected of towels.

So daffodil as hairbrush and towel? - two impossibles that together go nowhere close to making one sound less implausible than the other. But that is my title. And this is how implausible became plausible.

It is all the fault of Four-legged-friend.

Or of me. As I supplied both weapon and water.

Shortly afterwards, one less-stinky, happy and very wet dog was in need of a towel.

Towels don't grow in gardens. 

But un-mown clumps of daffodils do ...

Four-legged-friend rolled, kicked his legs in the air, writhed around a bit, got up and shook. He was very pleased with himself. 

I wasn't at all pleased with him!

Consider the poor daffodil - pretty good as towel; pretty rubbish as brush. And pretty flat!

Bertie Baggins wasn't interested in daffodils. And he is never interested in water. He had an altogether different plan - to sit as far away as possible from the hose

or stand beneath the washing.

Thus he needed neither towel nor brush and the remaining daffodils were safe.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Positively pessimistic.

Isn't that an oxymoron?

How can one be both positive and pessimistic?

Here's how - as illustrated in three simple scenarios: gardening, children and dreams.


When life throws you weeds, and the weeds grow more prolific with each despairing blink of your gardener's eye, and the gardener groans when hoisting upright after an afternoon spent, trowel in hand, bent-over in a choked flower bed, and the sun shines, burning the winter-tender skin at the back of the gardener's neck, and the gardener feels that inexorable train of at-first-creeping-then-later-racing resignation that the bloomin' weeds will win again - this year, like last year, like next year, then it is good to shove the pessimism down the nearest mole hole along with a fresh stinking emission from one of the dogs and stand back to reflect on what is positive. Things might look bad on the I-wish-I-had-a-garden-I-could-be-proud-of front and the there's-never-enough-time-in-the-day front and the I-feel-so-terribly-old front and it might be tempting to give in to that pessimism writ large on the seasonal horizon. But look. And see that things are not all bad.

For a start, you're loved. You have a friend.

A faithful companion who will watch you weed. Who will shove his muzzle in the way, periodically, just to check that it's not something edible that you're pulling out of the earth. Who will sleep nearby.

And later wake from doggy slumbers.

And play. Just as soon as his eyes focus.

Weeds? Who cares about weeds?!


What dreams we invest in our children. We bring them into this frightening, incredible, wonderful world full of potential experience, adventure and beauty. And we wrap them in cotton-wool. It's a scary place out there. We fear that we can keep them safe only if we watch them. All the time. I am guilty of this. All of my parent friends are. Media is I think to blame. Plus a heavy dollop of over-active imagination. We look out into the world from our mini-fortress homes and worry. Our heads full of concern, our internal pessimism monitors overflow with doom-ridden 'what ifs.'  Pessimism and fear make us try too hard. Over-protected and driven children become the norm, as we raise a failure-phobic generation. Ambition swells to the size of unscalable mountains. It is hard to see your child fail. But totally unrealistic to expect them never to do so. We invest enormous emotion in their achievements, nervously watch as they perform or compete or play and silently fret that they won't succeed, that they won't be judged the best, and feel a knot tighten somewhere in our gut that makes it hard to simultaneaously spectate and breath. That knot is a seed of pessimism that will certainly grow if fed on a diet of worry and doubt.  But again. Stop, look and consider. What has your child achieved? Even if victory is not theirs this time, taking part adds a few bricks to their character. Failing adds more. You and they need to celebrate and take pride in every little step that is achieved. Be positive. Smile. Breathe and smother that seed of pessimism.


Lastly and personally, I write. Not very well judging by my limited following. And no, I wasn't looking for compliments. My point is that I am pessimistic of ever being a success and that, plus a hard-wired habit of procrastination, prevents me from trying. But yet, I argue that my pessimism is still positive. No matter how bad the weeds, no matter how fierce the competition, no matter how great the fear of rejection, if the general outlook is a pessimistic one, things will always turn out better than  feared. I write because I enjoy it. Because one follower is better than none. Because one 'like' makes me smile.

Surely it is far, far better to be constantly surprised that things didn't turn out so bad, than always a disappointed optimist living in a world where things never quite live up to the hope invested in them.

I am happy to be an oxymoron - a positive pessimist. One who looks for the positives in my pessimist's world.

I am also a terrible procrastinator.

Hmm ... Can I make procrastination into something positive?

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Spring! And the gloves don't fit.

Birthday celebrations in Spring. Life is yellow. And the birthday boy is 245 years old.

"My heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

... what me! Dancing? With flowers! I don't think so ...

Like the 'ducks dabbling up-tials all', 'wandering lonely as a cloud' is a treasured verse from childhood. I wish I remembered more.

Happy Birthday William Wordsworth.

Apart from the flowers my favourite part of Spring is the light - crisp, clear, vastly distant. Casting low, long shadows

and blinding you in the car at the beginning and end of the day (that bit I don't love, very definitely don't love.)

Spring is also the one time of year when gardeners have the opportunity to beat back the rising tide of   emerging seeds, the first winding thready tendrils of bindweed, the low furry haze of nettle carpet and the first yellow heads of buttercup that scream catch-me-if-you-can. Lose the battle now and the weeds win. Again. Spring after Spring they win. Year after defeated year. Not this one though ...

With a little help from Four-legged-friend

...  I think there's another weed here.

One of the pleasures of gardening - apart from clean sharp tools. And a laboured-over, now weed-free soil. And the emerging red of rhubarb leaves. And the first flower-buds on strawberry plants. And Four-legged-friend raising an eyebrow to check that you are still busy and still safe as he lies at your feet - is the promise of a new pair of gloves.

Gloves that still smell of leather - rather than an earthy bouquet of bird-dropping, compost and sweetly fermenting grass. That have a soft fluffy lining that cocoons your tired aching fingers - rather than an outer shell of dried mud that has to be crushed and rubbed and shaken into something resembling pliable leather And an absence of aberrant secateur nicks to let in the nettle hairs that sting those hard-working, allergic to everything, gardening hands.

Sadly, after a mild and muddy winter, my Spring treat was not to be. My best laid plans for restoration of comfortable extremities had thrown a tantrum in the hand cream pot, stormed off to the land of bespoke clothing and basically gone far. far astray. My lovely new red gloves pinched. In all the wrong places. But mostly between the ring and little fingers. Which hurt. So I had to go back to pulling nettles with the holey, old, reeking pair. The pair that are so well-worn that they spookily look like my hands are still inside when I take them off.

Ho hum.

They say hit pain with pain. But I am yet to be convinced that the burn of nettle sting helps aching finger joints.

Maybe Littlest would like to grow into my lovely new gloves.