Monday, 24 March 2008

The dangers of Gardening in Middle England

Today it was not raining. There was a little hail, but no inclemency of significance.
That being the case, i decided it would be a good day to go up the allotment and do all those jobs I have been thinking about.
On the sideboard was a bag of neglected potatoes ready to go in, so my second and third beds of first earlies were were my main task.

After digging several beds, in preparation, I became completely absorbed in the task, except...
What passes for completely absorbed with most people? I really have no idea as i only know me. Inside my head, when I do a manual task that requires no intellectual input, whatever small idea or notion was in there to start with starts to bounce around and gain detritus. It might be a line from a television program or a comment made to me. And it gets bigger and bigger and more annoying.
I have heard people say that digging or some such task, clears the mind. Swimming also: "Oh, after a while I go into a kind of trance state".
This seems quite nice, but i have never experienced it. My head gets noisier and noisier.
So, does this mean that some people find tranquility whereas others just end up with a menagerie of irritating notions pestering them inside their heads?

For instance, i went for a run and earlier that week, a friend had made a comment about me being irritating due to my lack of focus and tendency to get distracted easily by my surroundings.
After 40 minutes of running this comment had acquired, in my own mnd, all the force of a damning personal attack. I was so angry with this person and was thinking of all kinds of hurtful ripostes! Now this is never right, is it!

So, there I am digging, to the extent that when I close my eyes, I now see couch grass roots, and after doing lots of productive stuff, planting spuds and onions, turning compost, making my mini greenhouse (£15 from Lidl. Outstanding value!) i feel somehow deeply satisfied.
It is a good sense of satisfaction and one of those feelings of "simple stuff is good for the soul" that is oft trumpeted by harkers-back-to-past times, zen Buddhists and spade-callers.
And yes, somehow, a mellowness has descended.
Except.... I find my world somehow smaller, my horizons not so interesting. I am sure that were I to read the daily Mail right now, i might even find myself nodding (horror of horrors!!!) in some semblance of self-righteous indignation. I find that agility of thought is degraded and for want of a better term, my "spark" somehow dimmed.

And so, my feeling is that whilst doing good toil with the soil is a wholesome endeavour bringing the solid feeling of having done a Good Day's Work, I am actually in some ways the worse for it!

And so here i am, attempting to renew my global perspective; Taking my mind beyond the parish boundary and opening my brain back up in an attempt to make it the fun, capricious plaything I know it to be most of the time.

And frankly, i am a little bit confused now. The plight of Darfur and Iraq seems suddenly a lot less important than the fight against the impending Waitrose and accompanying 350 houses. The chavs zooming down the street in tiny cars with huge exhausts seem far more heinous than some distant vague concept of suicide bombers and terrorists.
I must get back to the World! Is this what Middle England and gardening does for you?
Ye gods! No wonder the RHS members are always falling out with each other! How can I prevent this insularity?

Cripes! I am off to watch the news!


Magdalene said...

'Greenhouse £15 from Lidl?!' if this is true then you might have inadvertently solved a little problem.

The Weirdo, aka T.Rex, has been threatening for the past three years to build a greenhouse in his tiny back garden. The problem is that the fabled greenhouse has just become a bad excuse and cover up for collecting other peoples' dross from local skips. Old doors are a particular problem and have been impeding progress through his hall way for quite long enough. Being a thrifty minded chap, he loves an excuse to go to Lidl, so we may well now have the perfect solution to an ongoing problem :-)

Thesaurus Rex said...

When I saw there was one comment, I just knew it would be you, Maggy my dear. Now, permit me to defend myself. The greenhouse I was going to build actually couldn't happen because the rockery happened instead. Then, I didn't need the greenhouse or cold frame because one or two of my passtimes changed. Wilkinsons has usurped Lidl, and those doors are gonna be a shed before the spring is out, should it arrive in the first place.
Perl; I know exactly what you mean by the thoughts just getting worse or going round and round. It is for this reason among many, I can never meditate unless by accident. If anybody tells me to 'clear my mind of all conscious thought', it's an immediate red rag to the obstenate bull that is cogitation.

PerlNumquist said...

well, it is in all fairness a very small greenhouse. It might house a few midgets in a short squall, but you couldnt really hide skip-scavenged plunder in it. I figure though, it will do alright for me chillies this year.

Lidl, I cannot praise enough. I go every week at least twice. i will write a short piece soon, i think, about my appreciation for the splendid Schwabian mercantile empire.