4 hours ago
Friday, September 5, 2008
I rush out into the garden on a snail trail campaign and a sack of pellets half my body weight. In the 93 degree heat I am determined to eliminate all the pests I can possibly find.
I find it odd that a but a few decades ago I had entirely different campaigns in my mind, generally of the ‘change the world’ category. If I had known that I would end up with what many would describe as ‘feminine pursuits,’ I could have saved myself a bundle. Who would have thought that four children later, I could have left nature to her natural course, rather than bother to burn my bra? There again, these days, with the thinness of the ozone layer, I only have myself to blame.
As the window is open, I am able to conduct a reluctant conversation with my first born.
“The site just died in the middle of the video!” At 27, she sounds more like…….11?
I yank out handfuls of self seeding seedlings so that I can plant hand picked cuttings. Clouds of Bonemeal fill the fetid air. I really should drink more tea and less coffee around this time of year to remain hydrated. I can still see the sewing machine through the glass, beckoning me to finish the curtains for the "red room."
Fortunately I cannot see the kitchen but I can hear it’s yells, to command the short order cook for mass food production. I can also ignore the growing list of messages on the answering machine, all of which require my personal attention to streamline a triple line of play dates in the same afternoon. When they left for school and after several moments of scrubbing toilets, it is my hourly wish that they should remain pristine for at least 60 minutes. It's hard to believe that bean burritos could turn out to be a very serious error of judgment.
Nonna leans on the door jam to allow the flies free passage into the house.
“What you are do den?”
“I just want to finish off before it gets too hot.”
“What are doz den?”
“Peanut plants from those wretched squirrels. They’re everywhere, little pests.”
“The peanuts are pests?”
“No the squirrels that plant the peanuts are pests.”
“Wot you can do about dat den?”
“I really have no idea. I wish there were squirrel pellets as well as slug pellets. I wonder if beer baits would work or would I be reported to the Humane Society? Why don't the cats earn their living and chase away the squirrels?”
I jam the fork into the soil as I need to speed up.
The sprinkler hose is violated again!
What can I possibly cook for seven people in this heat? Why if it's so hot did the compost heap fail to reach sterile heat, to kill all the tomato debris from last year? It's hard to figure out if I have more tomato plants than peanut plants? Maybe I should admit defeat and start an organic market garden?
“Did you know he’s 75?” calls my daughter through the open window.
“75? Oo is 75? 75 iz nutting. A baby!” scoffs Nonna.
“Dahl,” I mutter into the greenery.
“Ooo no. Not curry again?”
“ROALD DAHL, "THE WRITER!” I bellow.
“Oh, I tink he iz dead, surely? Eez ever so old you know?”
“He visited! Isn’t that incredible!” rambles my daughter.
"Wot's she on about?" enquires Nonna, flapping a hand towards my daughter, inside, on the computer with the flies.
"She greatly admires Roald Dahl and "Quentin Blake." She wants to be an "illustrator."
"Ooo I fort she want to be an "EMT?"
"Ah.......she is young."
I stand up in the flower bed smothered in snail shell debris, compost and sweat so that my sun glasses slither down my nose. I hear a huge black monster truck burble up the driveway. A man with a business card sidles up. My daughter leans on the other side of the door jam to watch the visitor. Why is everyone watching and nobody doing?
He commences a long spiel about the many advantages of ‘black top,’ his qualifications, experience and total delightfulness, as I gulp warm air and trickle. I can feel myself sinking into the soil as the minutes pass and I wait for him to also draw breath. As he slithers to a close, he throws me a life line, “ya cud talk ta ya husband when he gets home from work.” I suddenly remember that I have a husband and that there is the remote, but truthful possibility, that he might indeed come home at night, although not necessarily this particular night.
“Thank you so much, I shall be sure to draw it my husband’s attention.” I beam with huge smugness at his departing form. I turn to face Nonna and my daughter, trapped and guilty. My daughter is in for the kill, “husband! You’re going to ‘ask? Bloody traitor mum!”
Nonna merely raises an eyebrow, unplucked and unflustered.