Sunday, 2 March 2014

All fall down ...

We know the children's rhyme - Ring-a-ring-a-roses, and at the end a pile of children collapse on the floor giggling, and then bounce up again.

I believe it's derived from the time of The Plague, when one sneeze was enough for sufferers to begin digging their own graves. Not much giggling there.

Well, in all the wind and rain, my fence fell down taking a shrub with it, and the tree from next door fell on the other fence. The result - debris scattered all over the garden, broken shrubs and roses and general muddy miserableness.

But nobody was hurt. No houses were damaged. We were warm and dry and had enough to eat. This is not a post about those who still find themselves under water - but let's pause for a minute to think how that must be, weeks down the line, and your carpets still stinking of mud (and worse).

No, the point is that, bit by bit, the mayhem in my garden is receding. The tree has gone from my lawn. One fence is back up. One little tree - an ornamental hazel - has somehow escaped damage and stands bravely in a rather bald flower bed. My neighbour and I have promised ourselves a trip to a Garden Centre once the other fence is up, to buy plants to replace those that were buried under the mud. The garden is getting used to its new shape. Before long it will be hard to recall the shadows of that lovely apple tree; only the birds will miss the red berries on the pyracantha. We'll sit in it next summer, with wine, and savour the surprises of new plants and flowers.

What has all this got to do with anything? Well, I think my writing-head feels like that garden muddle at times. All bits and twigs and muddiness. What begins as a good idea somehow collapses and become misshapen, trampled, its core buried under the wreckage.

It takes time, dragging each titbit into the daylight and wondering if it is any use or to dump it in the 'delete file'. Sometimes there's a temptation to dump the lot, to begin again, to find a new idea. But that core - the one that fired me in the first place - is generally still there. It takes time to find it. And it might need new narrative contexts in which to flourish. But ideas are precious, and should be cherished. They'll come out to play eventually, if we can give them space to breathe. And clear the rubbish that threatens to overwhelm them.


  1. Lovely, Jo. I really like this analogy! I'm very glad your garden is beginning to find itself again. My little garden in Zeeland has been through similar trauma, but the wall is not quite so easy to re-erect, so some re-structuring will have to wait until the summer. As for your writing, I'm glad the core idea remains strong, and I hope we'll see some of the fruits of your mental sorting in the months to come.

  2. Oh, dear, what a mess you must have had to deal with Jo. I like your analogy too, and also the way you can find a positive in a distressing situation, something I always try to do. Our side fence collapsed into the hedge last time we went overseas, and wonderful neighbour fixed it all before we returned! We are blessed to have such good people over the fence.

  3. Our fence has collapsed too. We fixed it twice and the winds came,so now it is fixed once more. We've had a lot of rain but no flooding although our garden looks like the day after a Glastonby festival ,as you say it will improve. I'm not having much joy with writing either I hope that improves too.

  4. Join the club. My brain feels the same. Isn't it strange how brains work. Sometimes ideas can set themselves out clearly in correct order of need in our heads. Other times they're piled up in the same sort of heap your garden was in a few weeks ago. We probably both need a break, a trip to a spa hotel, something luxurious..... No I won't be getting to one any time soon either!

  5. Brilliant analogy.
    I'm sad to think of your lovely apple tree not being there any more, but soon you will have something else, as you say.I hope you and your neighbour come up with something inspired.