The Policies

…. I want to talk about today are nothing to do with politicians, you might be glad to hear.  For it has been a busy time down at Grasshopper Towers, especially in the Little Acre that masquerades as a garden.

It’s one of those things that happens when you go away for a couple of weeks – did I tell you we’d been away? – you arrive home and before opening the car door the state of the grounds, as they are never know, is a source of some anxiety.  The grass is reverting to a natural state, and hedges are hiding jungle and other sins.  Weeds sprout joyously, and the bamboo threatens to take over just as pandas invade Scotland.

Just a few months ago I feared that the bamboo had failed to survive another long winter.  Of growth there was no sign; crinkled leaves fled the stems with very passing gale.  It would have to go, be replaced.  But it had been with me for over 15 years.  What had started in a one litre pot now covered half a dozen square yards, as we still call them, and reached way above head height.  Only the regular mower parades had been stopping it spreading further, though the shoots in the field, beyond the fence, out of mower’s path, suggested that there may be life deep underground.

And in our absence it has sprung back to life, warmed by the rare July sun.  And in the absence of said mower it is taking on the persona of old gits’ tufts; sprouting in places where it has been seen never before.  So I’ve decided to let a few clumps flourish, to see how it evolves.  There are green-leafed canes popping up through the climbing frame, and little clumps in the grass, and winding through the fence.  I’m going to let them be.

For there is enough to do, and the still air has been buzzing with two-stroke engines as brush-cutter and hedge-trimmer spark into life, and sweat drips from fifteen feet up mighty ladders that take vast energy to lug around the policies and have individual legs adjusted until a relatively safe cutting platform is in place, at the right height.

And all the time petrol drips from fuel lines perishing through the same winter that threatened the bamboo.  The brush-cutter has been replaced again, number 4 I think, and the hedge-trimmer may not survive much longer.  But the answer is a thing of joy.  It is the rechargeable, battery operated, garden machine.

I gave up on line-fed trimmers in frustration; fed up spending more time winding spools than cutting.  It has to be a metal blade.  And there’s a battery operated one at an affordable price.  And the fuel lines won’t perish in the dark months.  The same battery can fit into the hedge-trimmer too.  And they make little noise, weigh a fraction of the engine versions, and don’t leave you with hands tingling, unable to grip a pen, or ears ringing with tinnitus.

The garden’s almost fun again.  And the feeders are filled up too, the birds returning.  So far it’s the sparrows who are gobbling up the nuts.  But they’ve competition.  For a pair of visitors who have been with us since the spring have also returned.  They arrive dinner suited, carnationed even.  And they sometimes come together, out for dinner, as a couple.  It’s the sort of thing never before seen at Grasshopper Towers, and people are beginning to notice, making comments about that out for dinner thing.

But it’s great to see The Woodys back.  Even The Urchins know Mr from Mrs.  Maybe it’s just the reduced noise of battery trimmers; but they do like their nuts.

And the house martins are busy too; busy preparing to leave, as flight feathers are readying and little docks ensure that the slabs down below gather what they don’t want in the nests.  It’s a reminder that time is marching on.  They’ll be gone in a couple of weeks; and that means that in only a few days it’ll be Back to School.  Then it will be quiet.  And The Grasshopper may be seen once again.  You never know.  But for now the mower needs walking, again….


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