Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dirty work

I didn't start gardening in pursuit of death and destruction but there's a fair bit of that at our house, organic though we are. Indeed, organic makes it more obvious. We don't lay out some pellets, hoping the undesirables will munch them and then retire to a private death. Each morning I feed the chooks and then turn over pavers and bricks, squashing the slugs that continue to congregate despite my best efforts and picking off the snails to feed to the chooks. I keep an eye out for sap suckers too, and squish them beneath my fingers. Each day starts in an orgy of innards. People talk about gardeners' connection with nature - well, mine's all over the bottom of my boots.

Even the generative tasks are messy. After lunch today I painstakingly picked the compost worms out of the old bathtub and into their new, store bought worm farm. I'm a messy digger and planter too, and when Lucy ends up watering the seedlings in, as she invariably does, I'm damp and a little cold. I rather like the idea of looking fabulous, in a big hat and tailored kit, when I'm out among the plants, but the best I hope for is no bum crack at critical moments.

Lu, who used to be a great little helper, is backing away from gardening. She doesn't really like the feel of dirt and she's scared of the snails and bugs ("they might bite me, Mummy"), she who used to be ruthless in her crushing of them. She's still keen on anything worm related, but even the strawberries, once her most anticipated garden pleasure, are out of favour because they sometimes have dirt on them. Currently, Lu is happiest lolling on the sofa watching Skippy and reading, looking for all the world like a teenager shrunk in the wash.

Nell, on the other hand, is embracing her time outside.

Dirt, muck, it's all good now that I let her wander at will. But usually, she stays pretty close to my side, figuring out how to do it all. The other day she sat beside me, turning over each brick around the bed of sweet peas and bok choy, and pressing her index finger down hard, just like I do to squish a particularly common type of small, white slug. So good to see her embracing the essence of gardening at our house.

Who would guess this is the face of a killer?


Lost in a reverie... said...

Maybe it's a phase she is going through and Lu will embrace the dirt again one day. At least you have one mucky kid in the family - Nell is digging it.

Your description of Lu as a 'teenager shrunk in the wash' is perfect for Ro too. It's just a little reminder of what they are going to become.

Maura said...

I really enjoyed reading about your daughters' evolving connections to nature. I think it is so important to stimulate that understanding at a young age and nurture that connection that will spill over into other elements of their lives as they grow-up--understanding natural systems is a strong foundation for life skills. Your daughters are very lucky and I am sure they will become strong leaders and thinkers.

Kris said...

J - even if Lu never returns to the way of the dirt we have much in common - she loves baby lattes and complaining so we shall many happy hours solving the world's problems in cafes.

Maura - thanks for your kind words. They already seem quite remarkable to me, I must say.