Saturday, 23 July 2011

Lawn meditation

From Asterix in Britain
When we moved into our current house, I joked to my mum that our back garden was a kind of British Ryōan-ji.   It consisted of some dirty gravel outside the back door, a paved area enclosed by a fence concreted into the ground with horrid solar lamps on the fenceposts - alongside which ran another dirty gravel run down to two more cracked concrete areas and a shed.  I used to let the Piglet and her friends play out the back only if they would agree to stay on a tough tarpaulin which I spread over the gravel mixed with old cigarette butts. 
The kind generosity of the Good Fella's grandmother allowed us to get the garden landscaped at the earliest possible date.  How I laughed when people asked if I was going to break up the concrete myself!  It took two men and a pneumatic drill a whole day.  After a bit of a misunderstanding owing to my ordering a trellis when what we really wanted is called a pergola (there is a substantial difference in price between these two features!), the landscape gardeners set to work and laid out a vegetable patch, a much more appropriate size of patio than we would have created, a sturdy pergola, a flower-bed and a good size lawn on which the Piglet and other piglets love to disport themselves. 



We followed without question the tradition that the lawn should primarily be Good Fella domain.  He it is who maintains its trim cut and decides whether it should be in Wembley stripes or some other mowing pattern.  On the rare occasions when it needs watering, the Piglet begs to join in, dancing and laughing in the combination of green grass, glittering sprays of water and evening sunlight.  Like all natural ground the lawn is prone to weeds, in particular clover which spreads happily through the grass stems.  Rather than spray it with chemicals, I occasionally fetch out a small garden fork and dig out the weeds, gently replacing any grass tufts I have dug out by mistake. 
Although we will never be able to completely clear the lawn of weeds - notwithstanding Goscinny and Uderzo's suggestion that we spend a couple of thousand years on the task, there is something calming and satisfying about ten or twenty minutes spent clearing a small patch of ground in the impossible ambition of creating a flawless patch of green in our damp and shady back garden.  In that sense, we do now have a British Ryōan-ji.  Just as the monks at the temple of the dragon at peace achieve tranquillity by raking out the sand in the garden each morning after the hundreds of visitors have tramped over it all day long, we catch a few moments of peace in the land of the red dragon, trimming the grass, watering it and clearing the continuous settlement of weeds in our green and pleasant back garden. 

No comments:

Post a Comment