Digging in The Dirt by Ursula McLoughlin

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I hugged my coffee cup absentmindedly while thumbing through the glossy pages of my disturbingly over-priced gardening magazines. It was a pleasant day for sitting on my wooden bench. Aside from my newly done talons, it was the only ornamental faux feature in my unmanaged garden. I contemplated all the potential floral candidates for my would-be floral oasis. It was like a gardener’s speed date, I was first to show, nervous and excited at the variety of ‘budding’ hopefuls – awful pun, sorry – who would reveal their secret and colourful nature’s over the allotted time.

I squinted my eyes hard and directed my gaze to the sunniest part of my small yard, where I envisioned cascades of honeysuckle and jasmine trailing along a wall of oriental grasses and shrubs. I could almost smell the thick fragrance of their night perfume as it mingled with the flowering magnolia and the gentle peonies. So strong was the image, I felt inclined to wave my hand across my face to clear the air of dragonflies and ladybirds.

But my romantic streak is fickle, all that squinting gave me a headache and no amount of imagining could undo the newly forming wrinkles around my eyes from the effort. Who am I kidding? I’m not a homemade knit kinda gal, like these gherkin-pickling, lickity-split types in my magazines.  Delusion over, I retreated to the fridge and came back with a good old gin and tonic. I looked around the patch of balding lawn and decided to see it as it was.

At first, all I could see was what was wrong with that damn square of dirt.

Paving moss, broken fence, broken clay pots, among many other offenses to landscape perfection. Maybe it was the gin, or indeed the ensuing top-ups, but as I relaxed more into the scene, I noticed something that had been previously way off my visual radar.

Dotted along the cracks in the pavement were lofty sprigs of white valerian and wooly-leafed mullein. Clover spread through the patchy lawn, bobbing their mauve tufty heads in the breeze. All around there grew century, dandelions, dock, yellow pimpernel and I smiled to myself as I recalled the age old relationship between liking butter and the fluttering golden buttercups.

My garden was perfect. Wild and untamed – like my soul. I took a deeper sip from my glass. How often have I mistakenly tried to cultivate the wild parts of my essence? Relentlessly digging through fields of clay clods, desperate to plough a contrived paradise into existence. When left alone, free to express itself in it’s truest form, it naturally produces a truly beautiful array of colour and diversity. But they’re weeds!…yeah? And the gin I drank wasn’t exactly vintage reserve…but it was good enough for me. Now, let me see if the last of the sun can give me the kind of glow that the gin can only temporarily provide…

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