It's that time of year. Everything is overgrown. The air smells wet and soggy leaves clog the lawn. The roses have have a few brave little flowers but the glories of June are behind the. I've a vine that straggles across the back of the house. The quince tries to attack me as I squeeze past it to get to the compost heap. The ornamental pear looks like it's just woken up after a night on the tiles: it needs a haircut. The mock orange was beautiful in June but now it's trying to take over the world.
I don't climb ladders any more - mainly because I live alone, and if I fell off I'd be really stuck. Nobody coming to the front door and finding me out would think, 'I know, she's fallen off a ladder in the garden so I'd better find a way to get in and rescue her.' No, off they'd trot, assuming I was out or had my head buried so deeply in a book I was refusing to answer the door.
And so I have a trusty pruning-man. He comes with his ladders and electric thingies and long-handled whatnots and whizz, snip, chop - and the lawn is thick with twigs and leaves and general debris. My job is to come behind him and sweep it all up, and lug it down the garden to the compost heap. Give us a couple of hours and the garden will have its annual headache. It will look a bit surprised for a day or two, and it might sulk for a while, but by spring all will be forgiven. (Except, maybe, the vine - which has produced just one bunch of grapes in all the years I've lived here. It hung over next door; eat them, I said. But they didn't. And so, in a fit of childishness, I chopped that end off the vine. It has never produced grapes since then.)
The garden sorted, I need to do the same for my writing. Pass it over to someone with a serious red pen. Someone who does not linger over dead wood. Someone who can spot a weak shoot or crumbling branch and not grieve for it. I, too, might sulk for a while But eventually I'll review the remains of my lovely words. It will all feel very bald for a while, but will hopefully blossom next year. For we all know that writing, like gardens, need a serious chopping from time to time.