For what seems like weeks now I’ve been describing, in laconic detail, just how tough it is keeping a 600 (or so) square foot greenhouse in an adequate enough state of repair to do its job whilst at the same time planting it out in such a way as to produce a range of varied and edible produce. Truth be told, if I was to take it any more seriously than I currently do it’d cease being an enjoyable pastime and become a job of work. As some of you may be aware, notwithstanding the fact that the world is changing before our very eyes, me and work are done, I’ve paid my dues, it’s the turn of the state to pay me back with some of what I’ve loaned it over the years.
The plants are just one piece of the jigsaw, the structure, the glass, the soil, the manure, the water, the hose that delivers the water, the water butts, the watering cans, the sun, the rain, the frost, the plant pots, the seed trays, the compost heap, the canes, the strings, the tools, the potting table and my trusty old bench all come together to create an environment that, although frustrating and infuriating at times, provides an oasis of sanity that has become invaluable during these unprecedented times.
What do I do when I’m not attending to one or more of the above?
You might well ask, and there’s a simple answer. Not a great deal, but mostly it’s one or more of three things, I sometimes do two of them at the same time as none of them is too taxing. I think, I tweet and I potter. The thinking part comes naturally to me, I’ve always got the germ of an idea for an article or for a chapter to squeeze into the ongoing saga that is Twenty Five. I think about politics, foraging, growing, cooking, photography my family and my friends. I ponder on mortality, the meaning of life, bird song, beer, dominoes, the life in the fields around me and holidays. I take time to reflect on my past and consider my future. I consider if there’s any merit whatsoever in standing outside my house, clapping for nurses, when they’ve got plenty of time and resources to choreograph lavish music video’s, wearing full Personal Protective Equipment. I wonder if lending my vote to the Tories was the wrong thing to do and I ruminate over whether or not I was right about Boris Johnson all along. I agonise over my failings and marvel at my small, infrequent successes, I be just an ordinary bloke.
pottering (present participle)
occupy oneself in a desultory but pleasant way.
“I’m quite happy just to potter about by myself here”
do nothing much · amuse oneself · tinker about · tinker around · fiddle about · fiddle around · do odd jobs · mess about · mess around · piddle about · piddle around ·
move or go in a casual, unhurried way.
“I might potter into Nice for the day”
Pottering is a bit of an art form and it’s something many of us indulge in, I’m sure. The above definition says it all really, we all potter in our own way, to while away our time and to allow our minds to wander. All I really have to say about it is this; don’t feel guilty if you find yourself pottering, it isn’t a crime, yet.
Just lately, for the last 8 weeks or so, I’ve been combining pottering with thinking about Covid-19. I’m not usually short of a theory or two, or a firm opinion, but Corona Virus and all its attendant theories has me stumped.
Who can really believe a viral disease, that has manufactured DNA strands within its makeup and is threatening the whole planet (sic.), resulted from someone drinking a bowl of bat and Pangolin soup (albeit a soup that was obviously past its best before date)?
Who wants to believe that, novel and movie like, a tired, distracted scientist walked out of a laboratory in China and forgot to close the door behind him?
What kind of conspiracy nut reads that American athletes/soldiers from a level four high security chemical weapons lab/military base (apparently now closed) in Fredericksburg Virginia, where experiments with introducing HIV sequencing and Gamma retro-virus components into Corona type viruses, were in Wuhan just prior to the start of outbreak, puts two and two together and makes five?
What on earth could possibly lead normally rational people to believe that a small coterie of extremely wealthy, powerful and power hungry people, with the collusion of the WHO, the UN, deep state “bad actors” and at least one government has unleashed a virus, possibly one that has a built in facility to mutate at regular intervals, on a generally unsuspecting world?
Who could possibly further believe that this same exclusive coterie (they know who they are) has a small army of useful idiots, all of them sucking on the teats of Mammon, who, seemingly immune from this disease, are out there pushing the globalist, One World agenda for no other reason than they’re altruists who want only the best for their fellow global citizens?
Who would have ever considered that the economy of the Western World would be put in real, potentially unrecoverable jeopardy, to attempt to control a disease that is likely to kill no more than 0.03% of the global population?
I make no judgment, because truthfully I don’t know how Covid-19 started or when and how it will end. I’ve broadly been following the “rules” because it’s been easy for me to do so, living where I do. I’m 69 this year and I’ve had bronchial pneumonia in the recent past. I share the care of a housebound dementia sufferer, who I’d hate to see become ill because of my actions. Having said this I have a deep and immutable feeling that, whatever the truth of the matter, wheels are now in motion to throw an hundred of spanners into the works. I know, for instance, that we’ve left the EU, but we haven’t really left yet and I’m still, pessimist that I am, not counting my chickens. When David Cameron resigned I said something would happen; I’m not saying that Covid-19 was delivered to us in an effort to stop us leaving the EU and to stop Donald Trump being reelected, but I am saying there are those who see it as an opportunity to facilitate these things, if they possibly can.
In the real world, away from conspiracy theories, the summer fast approaches and with it the first real signs of life are starting to form in my little oasis of sanity. I’ve found a space for some more potatoes and late developing tomato plants. I think I’ve stopped the mice getting at my brassica and I’ve got a little crop of finger aubergine and chili seedlings, which I’d just about given up on, starting to look healthy enough to plant out.
Early tomatoes are forming, although it’s still getting cold enough at night to require fleeces to be used to trap the days heat. I’m hoping that by next week we’ll be past the possibility of frosts, as it’s time the larger tomato plants were “strung” to provide them with the support they need as the grow taller. Some of the plants, which set off in the ground as delicate seedlings just six weeks or so ago, are now approaching a couple of feet in height and at real risk of bending, which isn’t good.
I staggered the planting of my potatoes in the hope that I’d be harvesting “new potatoes” a couple of days a week from the end of this month right through until the end of July, with the ones I’ve recently planted taking me through to August and possibly even into September. It’s a simple enough thing and I know potatoes are relatively inexpensive, but there really isn’t anything to match the flavour when they are cooked straight from the ground (having first been washed, obviously).
The world is changing and we probably all have to change with it, to a greater or lesser extent, I can foresee a time when some of our basic freedoms could be curtailed, lock down like and some of our rights may well be removed for the good of all (sic.). I don’t think it will be in my lifetime and I hope I’m wrong, but maybe we have to go there and, just maybe, there isn’t a great deal we can do about it.
Happy Rough Gardening.
© Colin Cross 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file