There are not many things nicer than the sound of rain on the roof as we snuggle in for the night, especially when it’s breaking the drought in our garden, and I’m enjoying the sound of each gentle drop we have had of late. I have especially been hoping for rain so I can tidy the flower beds where the weeds have been snaking beanstalk like to the heavens. Trying to pull anything that resembles a tree more than a weed, is so disheartening. The ground is dried and shrunken around roots holding with a vice like grip as I tug and twist and swing, trying to wrestle them free, only to have them snap at ground level where I know the bastard will resprout when I’m not looking.
I hope it buckets down I smiled to myself as a few days of promise had been little more than a dribble to the parched earth that’s sucking it up. Now we’ll have some fantastic days of weeding. Oh the difference I will make…. which reminds me I was supposed to have turned the compost heap in readiness for just this. This is what most of the garden has looked like.
When we came home one day after being with Tara, Monie and the kids took me outside. I had to close my eyes to be ‘surprised. We made our way up to the back of the shed and as we neared the area, of course I was peeking, I was being led down stairs and over brick paths and grass. I feared for the life of a certain hydraenga that Mum had grown from a stick for me. It had died down and was once again little more than a stick and a couple of leaves, but no flowers.
Monie doesn’t know a weed from a plant so when I opened my eyes to a ‘surprise!’ to see the whole area bare, bar this tiny hydrangea I was blown away. “Wow! How did you know it was a plant” I asked Monie in complete amazement. “I didn’t”, she said shrugging. “I just thought it looked a bit like a plant, so I left it”.
On my next day off I decided to tackle the climbing rose that sits behind the hydrangea. It’s a beautiful full white rose that used to be stunningly beautiful on Mums garage wall. She must have nipped away at it regularly because it always looked fabulous with fresh blooms. Mine always looks past its best with brown withered remains and I approach it tentatively with the longest handled pruners I have. It has the most brutish of thorns and long tentacle arms that ping up and wrap themselves around the back of your arms or calves or back. I always come away with embedded thorns and tender tears and scratches. Gardening is certainly not for the faint hearted. After this time tho I have decided I will invest in some of those gloves that even a wild possum would have trouble getting through and I will adopt my new garden mantra of …’little and often.’
So first thing on our next day off I began by turning the compost as the sun began steaming up the little moisture we had gained overnight. Before long a fat rat, no doubt from eating my hens food when I wasn’t looking, leapt out and ran in front of me, over the fence and out. I stood rooted to the spot with a strangled scream coming out, but only after he had gone. Heart beating as if I had met a six foot monster, I resumed shovelling and hoped it wasn’t a Mummy rat. Then I could hear a tiny sound like baby birds waiting for mama to feed them and I had a sinking feeling this would be plural- baby rats. Sure enough, a turn of the shovel bought up tiny squealing blind babies. Unable to run, thank god, they pumped their tiny legs and waited for their mummy to carry them back to their nest she had carefully made with soft fabric and fluffy bits.
I looked around wondering where Jebus the cat was, only to find he was just a couple of metres away sitting on the water tank observing nonchalantly. Jebus and I have a ‘don’t touch me and I will feed you’ kind of relationship. We made eye contact and I used my sweetest ‘cat woman’ voice encouraging him to come down. “Heeeere jeeeebus, coooome on.” He looked around first to make sure I wasn’t talking to someone else before casually stretching and jumping down, purring around my gumboots. So stupid, I thought, having to physically take his head and point it towards the squirming mass. Only then did he show any interest, sniffing, gingerly picking up one and taking it down to the grass before lazily watching it. I realised then that Jebus had just eaten breakfast and was not likely to eat them all, so it was up to me. By now some of you wil have horrified looks on your faces. I can see them. Your face will look like Rens did when I told her that night. Eyes wide, checks wrinkled up and lips curled, ew! “Mum you didn’t kill them”, she asked with horror, as she listened to the story.
“Of course I killed them. Do you think I offered if they’d like to come in for lunch? Do you think I’d let a dozen baby rats grow into mummy’s and daddy’s? No. Of course I killed them. With a spade. Short sharp chop across the belly”. “Oh my God!” Ren closed her eyes and held her hands over them trying not to visualise it. “Mum, why didn’t you just put them into a bucket of water?” She asked as if this was a much nicer way to die.
I demonstrated then and there what happens when baby rats go into a bucket of water, as I began to mimic dog paddling around the room gasping for breath. In fact I’ve seen this. Chee and I were gardening many years ago and we came across a similar nest and I handed Chee the spade and said, “kill them mate while I see what Dads wanting”. “I couldn’t, Chee confided when I returned. It’s too horrible”. “Shall we drown them?” he asked. Hmm, great minds think alike. We chucked them into a bucket and Chee looked up at me with big sad eyes as we watched and they swam for their lives. Around and around the bucket. “They’re not going to die” he said in horror. “Oh they’ll get tired, I said, but not such a nice way to die.” he agreed and we pulled them out and wacked them over the head. Short and sharp is better than drowning any day I said to Ren.
So I take a last look back at the piles around the place from all the weeding and pruning and am feeling very satisfied. I am making a difference alright, tho there is a lot more to do and I might just take Graham’s advice and pay cold hard cash and get some help to get on top of this.