My fella is always going on about he does most of the work on the allotment; about how turning the soil over is the real graft and I never do that, preferring to gently weed, plant seeds in soil he’s already tilled, or sometimes, much to his chagrin, nap. I’ve long argued that this somewhat gender bound division of labour has been unfair, it’s not that I’ve not been up for digging over the soil, it’s just that my fella is better at it than me. He mocks my efforts, and tries to instruct me by taking the fork off me and doing it all himself, getting me to just rifle through the soil he’s dug up for roots and bindweed. He’s quicker, stronger, knows what he’s doing a bit more. And I’ll be honest, it’s not like I’ve campaigned to be chief digger, I mean, it’s hard graft, it’s back breaking sweaty work, obviously I’d rather be sunbathing.
Then he told me that I could have all the flowers I wanted as long as I dug the bed for them. Fair enough. (eeek) So, earlier this week we walked to B&Q and got me my very own fork. I was more excited than I should have been to be honest. No self respecting twenty something should get giddy over garden tools. Alas, it would appear I am that lame.
My purchase was well timed with the nice weather on Saturday, and I spent a wild night in the spring sunshine while my fella was at work, doing some serious digging. I was a tad apprehensive, I’d never done any digging before. I mean, it’s not a thing you tend to do growing up is it? Other than maybe at the beach, and even then it’s a short lived attempt before your dad takes over determined to make the best sand castle/ fort/ display in the whole of Devon. Luckily without the critical eye of my fella I felt like I could do my own thing…
The fork didn’t so much as glide in, as it did stagger through the earth guided by the force of my entire weight. Apparently I’m not strong enough to push a spade into the ground, and have to use all of my body weight and jump to get any soil moving. I must have looked ridiculous. At first I kept glancing around, to see if I could see groups of OAPS ducking behind their sheds with thermos full of tea, to LOL at my ineptitude, but as usual the plots were empty of human lifeforms, and there was only a cat, who sat, mockingly watching from the undergrowth. Soon I got proper in to it. I got my rhythm going, I felt good, like I was actually making progress; doing something. Fork in, jump on, fork out, turn soil, discard roots and go again.
I was only planning to go for a little while, but I ended up digging for about two hours. It was that classic, ‘oh I’ll just do this bit’, and ‘this little bit more would look better’. The time flew. The methodical, phsyical nature of the task was enjoyable and satisfying. And my fella was SO shocked, in awe almost when I showed him the results of my efforts.
I’m paying for it today, my arms ache a bit and I’ve a callous on the palm of my hand. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still covered in mud.