19 October 2012

Doll's Paddock - a week ago at the working bee

It wasn't what I wanted, since the original idea was getting big hefty boys to move soil.

Dominic, our youngest son, decided to hire the services of a well-known landscaper to "advise us" on how to design a garden, choosing to ignore the fact that for the past four years we have been doing just that - with modest success.

So Thursday came - and so did Simon.

Simon sussed the situation and was diplomatic, settling on the vegetable garden as an area for discussion. Plans, lists, string were used; much standing around with legs apart and heads nodding.  All this in the lyrical half-light of a warm spring evening (much like tonight).

Saturday arrived.  It rained - heavily.  Sons, grandsons, wives poured out of cars with their dogs, spades, forks, gloves and boots.  Heavenly, I thought, at last we will get the gravel laid, the bush mulch spread.  And we did - eventually.

Adolescent grandsons arrive carrying hangovers and all they want to do is sleep.  Wives arrive with assorted complaints "It's too cold ... it's too wet ... I don't have any boots ... just a minute, I'm smoking ... can I duck in for a coffee?"

So it goes.

Sons plant, make lists, use string and stand around with legs apart, heads nodding!

Lunch time, and five kilos of lamb chops and three kilos of sausages are cooked on a BBQ in a dry area. Everyone is covered in red mud up to their arm-pits. Tools are heavy with soil, lifting them could dislodge cartilage. Everyone is wet down to the last inner layer, but everyone has to wee.  Boys outside, girls inside.  Caked in mud, shoes and boots have to be removed.

Hands, cold and dirty, have to be washed. More visits inside the house.

The dogs eat the left-overs and work begins again. Putting on wet socks, shoes, boots, pants all take time - the six year old gets bored. Mum leaves with him in the car for easier pastures.  Grandsons whose only aim in life is to play for Australia in footy or basketball, who train night and day, complain they are tired.  They good humouredly throw wet soil at one another, their legs now indistinguishable from the ground on which they are standing.  Pyjama bottoms, that are clearly de rigueur in Box Hill, remain adamantly hanging around their hips, wet and thin - preferred by both children to Hard Yakka pants.

Planter boxes emerge from the chaos, some at odds with existing beds, another design being imposed on the existing one. What will happen to the surrounding area when they all go home and reconvene three months later? A jumble of half-completed ideas complimenting a mass of weeds.  I see disaster ahead.

Dinner-time. Another two kilos of hamburgers arrive, with various salads. We eat at the table, after everyone has showered and left their clothes and shoes outside. It rains and gets colder.  Grandsons, unready for the world of adult organisation, leave possessions outside exposed to wind and rain.  Beds are made and sleep comes quickly.

Sunday - the clocks go forward! An hour less sleep.

We beguile them with eggs and bacon. They stand around in more pyjama pants. The youngest must be in Melbourne for a try-out for next year's team. Suddenly they are full of alert energy, nagging their father to go.

It's stopped raining, but it could snow.  The wind is vile, the temperature wicked. Our week-end working bee is over.
Who's the smart one????

Dee Briscomb at Doll's Paddock

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