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July 4, 2017 / hbrowne4

My Garden’s Secret Life by Jack Kelly Jnr.

I am on my knees. Hidden down here is another, unknown world. Crawling under these shrubs turns out to be an unexpected, wild life experience. Overhead, bees are buzzing, busily travelling from flower to flower, and collecting pollen. Occasionally one will come to visit, alighting upon my bare skin. After a quick tour, finding nothing of interest, he departs. For some extraordinary reason, as a result of that eventless visit, I feel braver all the same.

Underneath the pristine canopy, in the weedy wilderness chaos appears to reign. Marching through this mini jungle are beautiful ladybirds. I’m not quite sure what to do with such wildness. If I kill it will I also kill the ladybirds? Should I ignore what my mind suggests about pulling out those weeds? My heart wins. It is more fun to partake in this secret life, an audience of one in this non-choreographed, wondrous play.

The summer sunshine beats down upon my exposed, bare legs and ankles whilst my body and head burrow their way further beneath the green, flowering roof. I am eagerly on the scent, hunting, chasing unknown life. Whether to hunt them down and kill them, expel or welcome them is yet to be decided. But for now I am simply enjoying exploring this ordinary garden’s secret life.

You may imagine I am a young boy or even an indolent teenager but the truth is I am age sixty three. You might think me a lazy lay-about but it’s something else entirely. You see until now I had not realized that this simple, ornamental garden holds hidden delight and mystery.

I’m wearing shorts, knee pads, garden gloves and t-shirt; these are absolutely no match for the hard soil and spiky thorns. Scratches appear on my arms and I can feel hard little stones cut into my skin as I shimmy along the unyielding ground. My hair is like a collector’s broom, full of dead leaves, bits of twigs, dried tree bark and cobwebs. Unexpectedly, something else accompanies me – a sense of adventure and a child-like delight in simple things. Fleeting moments of unforeseen happiness and lightness of being invade my soul. I smile for no reason; no reason at all!

The garden is not very big. It measures 15 metres by 12 metres, mostly laid out in lawn. The grass carpet is back-dropped by mature shrubbery; along the front are flowerbeds. Suddenly, on impulse, a happy thought occurs to me.

‘Do the flower beds hold wildlife too? Are all the pristine shrubs and flowers harbingers of unknown life?’ I ask myself, continuing ‘Is this orderly, ordered garden a sanctuary for illegal, unapproved, uninvited aliens – beetles, worms, bees, weeds, butterflies, bugs of all kinds, birds, mice, etc., etc.?’

I need a break to digest this onslaught of new knowledge. Rest is required. Returning to the garden recliner I feel the latent heat held in that chair radiate through tired bones. Oh what joy!

Lazy eyelids begin to droop; half asleep, my mind fades into stillness. But a disturbance in paradise agitates me from my tranquillity. Suddenly I am wide awake. Somehow my half-closed eyes have detected flighty comings and goings over in the wedding-cake tree. What is going on? An investigation is required.

Armed with a trusty garden hoe I advance upon the said plant. Resplendent in its majesty, conjoining the shrubs and flower beds, concealing the far-off, boundary wall, the tree dwarfs me and everything else in the garden. It stands over three times my height whist being at least 3 metres wide at the base, with layers of branches and leaves right down to the ground. Very carefully, using the handle of the gardening tool I separate the branches; looking for I know not what. Parting of the way is carried out with gentle sensitivity because if any branches or branchlets get damaged I will have some explaining to do. My adorable wife adores this tree.

Suddenly, from the nearby dwarf, flowering, crab tree comes plaintive, angry chattering. A tiny little bird is putting up a most awful commotion. I wonder ‘What is annoying her?’ Then it dawns on me. She is upset because I am invading her place – ‘her place,’ I ask myself with irony, ‘I thought I owned this place?’ – and she is determinedly trying to drive me away. I decide to ignore her and advance further into the foliage, all the time dividing the way with the hoe. Soon I am protected by branches and leaves. Whilst indignant chirping follows me the bird herself does not. Glad of that fact I relax now, having feared that she may attack, even if she is a tiny, little thing.

Inside, my eyesight adjusts to the new environment. At first I do not distinguish just what caused all of those flights to and from this tree. Then I see it – a bird’s nest. Ah! So that’s what she didn’t want me to discover. No wonder! Mammy didn’t want her little home disturbed. Here is one more secret my garden is giving up.

Temporarily pondering the fact that all of my spraying, pruning, cutting, weeding, killing has been in vain I laugh at myself. There is a mystery here bigger than me. Deciding to forget about such matters for now, once more I return delighted attention to this find.

That nest is made of dried mud and shaped somewhat like a beehive. The outside is trimmed with faded, green-brown, weather-beaten moss. Cunningly camouflaged, it rests securely within the crook of an upside-down triangle, naturally formed by the branches. There is no door of course, just an opening about centre ways between top and bottom. I peep inside. There is a tiny, saucer-shaped bed lined with soft feathers. From it I see four, yellow, little beaks rising up, fighting to be first to the opening, to food. I gaze delightedly. ‘So this is what’s happening in my garden.’ I muse in astonishment, ‘Inside our expensive wedding-cake tree is a bird’s nest where she is now raising her four little chicks. Wow!’

Returning once again to the warm garden seat I sit and ponder at the delights and mystery discovered this morning. Nothing has changed and yet everything has. A garden designed for aesthetic beauty now holds mystery and delights never before seen. The irony is that this pleasure has always awaited me had I but looked through freshly opened eyes. This then gives me another idea.

First though I check if my adorable partner is still out. I want to act in secret – afraid that if she sees me doing what I am about to do next she will think I’m off my rocker.

‘Ah; no sign of the car back yet,’ I comment to myself, ‘she’s still shopping so.’

Walking to the flower bed, ever so carefully I lift up a piece of statuary, an ornamental plant stand. Bingo! Underneath are little creepy crawly things, all racing hither and thither from the sudden onslaught of light. There are black beetles as well as earwigs; earthworms and little fat slugs; all lying in the damp earth. ‘Oh how wondrous is this?’ I ask myself.

When I think of all the years spent trimming around the base of this garden ornament I am astonished that never once have I allowed myself the fun of looking beneath. I sit back on my haunches and watch the zoo of aliens depart, searching for darkness and safety; leaving slow, slow moving slug stuck there, exposed to the heat. But what’s that I spy clinging on to the underside of the plinth of said ornament? ‘This requires detailed inspection.’ I think to myself, fishing reading glasses from my pocket. Down now on my knees for a closer look I see that they are tiny snail houses. Fetching a twig I poke at them gently. Some roll away with a brittle fine china sound – suggesting they are empty. But one or two continue to cling to the cement. ‘More guests,’ I assume, ‘and they are home.’

Normally I would be off for the poison to kill them but now my heart isn’t in it any more. I smile as I replace, ever so carefully, that ornament exactly as I found it – Mr. Slug will be pleased. Happiness envelopes me.

Looking at the smartphone I realize it is nearly one o’clock – time for lunch! Going back indoors and away from the outdoor brightness it takes my eyesight a little time to adjust. Once my snack is prepared I happily take it and myself to the conservatory, intent upon gaining the window seat overlooking our garden. But boy, am I in for a surprise? Sitting in that window seat, a wonderful smile upon her face, is my wife.

Startled at first, and then feeling a little guilty about my morning’s mini-safari, I defensively ask ‘I didn’t hear you come in?’, sitting hurriedly in the nearest chair.

‘The car had to go to the mechanic today, remember? I’m home a good while now. I walked back!’ she explains matter-of-factly, continuing with mischief in her eyes, ‘you seem to be busy today – what with pulling and tearing the garden apart and everything?’

‘Checking for wood lice’ I answer, giving her the first wild thought that comes into my mind, ‘didn’t find any though.’

Silence descends. That’s not surprising after nearly forty years of marriage. But what happens next is. I hear low chuckles escaping and then full bodied laughter. My wife is laughing – uncontrollably, unrestrainedly.

‘She’s laughing at me; she thinks I’m a fool.’ I assume as I snarl-bite into my sandwich, crossing one leg over the other and turning my body away from her, all at the same time.

‘You know how we’ve been married for nearly forty years?’ she states, then pauses for what seems an age as she catches her breath from all of the laughing, before continuing, ‘Sitting here for the last hour watching you it occurs to me that I haven’t seen such delight and happiness on your face in a long time. Whatever it is that you found I would love for you to share it with me?’

My adorable wife – she too is a mystery!

 

 

I am on my knees. Hidden down here is another, unknown world. Crawling under these shrubs turns out to be an unexpected, wild life experience. Overhead, bees are buzzing, busily travelling from flower to flower, and collecting pollen. Occasionally one will come to visit, alighting upon my bare skin. After a quick tour, finding nothing of interest, he departs. For some extraordinary reason, as a result of that eventless visit, I feel braver all the same.

Underneath the pristine canopy, in the weedy wilderness chaos appears to reign. Marching through this mini jungle are beautiful ladybirds. I’m not quite sure what to do with such wildness. If I kill it will I also kill the ladybirds? Should I ignore what my mind suggests about pulling out those weeds? My heart wins. It is more fun to partake in this secret life, an audience of one in this non-choreographed, wondrous play.

The summer sunshine beats down upon my exposed, bare legs and ankles whilst my body and head burrow their way further beneath the green, flowering roof. I am eagerly on the scent, hunting, chasing unknown life. Whether to hunt them down and kill them, expel or welcome them is yet to be decided. But for now I am simply enjoying exploring this ordinary garden’s secret life.

You may imagine I am a young boy or even an indolent teenager but the truth is I am age sixty three. You might think me a lazy lay-about but it’s something else entirely. You see until now I had not realized that this simple, ornamental garden holds hidden delight and mystery.

I’m wearing shorts, knee pads, garden gloves and t-shirt; these are absolutely no match for the hard soil and spiky thorns. Scratches appear on my arms and I can feel hard little stones cut into my skin as I shimmy along the unyielding ground. My hair is like a collector’s broom, full of dead leaves, bits of twigs, dried tree bark and cobwebs. Unexpectedly, something else accompanies me – a sense of adventure and a child-like delight in simple things. Fleeting moments of unforeseen happiness and lightness of being invade my soul. I smile for no reason; no reason at all!

The garden is not very big. It measures 15 metres by 12 metres, mostly laid out in lawn. The grass carpet is back-dropped by mature shrubbery; along the front are flowerbeds. Suddenly, on impulse, a happy thought occurs to me.

‘Do the flower beds hold wildlife too? Are all the pristine shrubs and flowers harbingers of unknown life?’ I ask myself, continuing ‘Is this orderly, ordered garden a sanctuary for illegal, unapproved, uninvited aliens – beetles, worms, bees, weeds, butterflies, bugs of all kinds, birds, mice, etc., etc.?’

I need a break to digest this onslaught of new knowledge. Rest is required. Returning to the garden recliner I feel the latent heat held in that chair radiate through tired bones. Oh what joy!

Lazy eyelids begin to droop; half asleep, my mind fades into stillness. But a disturbance in paradise agitates me from my tranquillity. Suddenly I am wide awake. Somehow my half-closed eyes have detected flighty comings and goings over in the wedding-cake tree. What is going on? An investigation is required.

Armed with a trusty garden hoe I advance upon the said plant. Resplendent in its majesty, conjoining the shrubs and flower beds, concealing the far-off, boundary wall, the tree dwarfs me and everything else in the garden. It stands over three times my height whist being at least 3 metres wide at the base, with layers of branches and leaves right down to the ground. Very carefully, using the handle of the gardening tool I separate the branches; looking for I know not what. Parting of the way is carried out with gentle sensitivity because if any branches or branchlets get damaged I will have some explaining to do. My adorable wife adores this tree.

Suddenly, from the nearby dwarf, flowering, crab tree comes plaintive, angry chattering. A tiny little bird is putting up a most awful commotion. I wonder ‘What is annoying her?’ Then it dawns on me. She is upset because I am invading her place – ‘her place,’ I ask myself with irony, ‘I thought I owned this place?’ – and she is determinedly trying to drive me away. I decide to ignore her and advance further into the foliage, all the time dividing the way with the hoe. Soon I am protected by branches and leaves. Whilst indignant chirping follows me the bird herself does not. Glad of that fact I relax now, having feared that she may attack, even if she is a tiny, little thing.

Inside, my eyesight adjusts to the new environment. At first I do not distinguish just what caused all of those flights to and from this tree. Then I see it – a bird’s nest. Ah! So that’s what she didn’t want me to discover. No wonder! Mammy didn’t want her little home disturbed. Here is one more secret my garden is giving up.

Temporarily pondering the fact that all of my spraying, pruning, cutting, weeding, killing has been in vain I laugh at myself. There is a mystery here bigger than me. Deciding to forget about such matters for now, once more I return delighted attention to this find.

That nest is made of dried mud and shaped somewhat like a beehive. The outside is trimmed with faded, green-brown, weather-beaten moss. Cunningly camouflaged, it rests securely within the crook of an upside-down triangle, naturally formed by the branches. There is no door of course, just an opening about centre ways between top and bottom. I peep inside. There is a tiny, saucer-shaped bed lined with soft feathers. From it I see four, yellow, little beaks rising up, fighting to be first to the opening, to food. I gaze delightedly. ‘So this is what’s happening in my garden.’ I muse in astonishment, ‘Inside our expensive wedding-cake tree is a bird’s nest where she is now raising her four little chicks. Wow!’

Returning once again to the warm garden seat I sit and ponder at the delights and mystery discovered this morning. Nothing has changed and yet everything has. A garden designed for aesthetic beauty now holds mystery and delights never before seen. The irony is that this pleasure has always awaited me had I but looked through freshly opened eyes. This then gives me another idea.

First though I check if my adorable partner is still out. I want to act in secret – afraid that if she sees me doing what I am about to do next she will think I’m off my rocker.

‘Ah; no sign of the car back yet,’ I comment to myself, ‘she’s still shopping so.’

Walking to the flower bed, ever so carefully I lift up a piece of statuary, an ornamental plant stand. Bingo! Underneath are little creepy crawly things, all racing hither and thither from the sudden onslaught of light. There are black beetles as well as earwigs; earthworms and little fat slugs; all lying in the damp earth. ‘Oh how wondrous is this?’ I ask myself.

When I think of all the years spent trimming around the base of this garden ornament I am astonished that never once have I allowed myself the fun of looking beneath. I sit back on my haunches and watch the zoo of aliens depart, searching for darkness and safety; leaving slow, slow moving slug stuck there, exposed to the heat. But what’s that I spy clinging on to the underside of the plinth of said ornament? ‘This requires detailed inspection.’ I think to myself, fishing reading glasses from my pocket. Down now on my knees for a closer look I see that they are tiny snail houses. Fetching a twig I poke at them gently. Some roll away with a brittle fine china sound – suggesting they are empty. But one or two continue to cling to the cement. ‘More guests,’ I assume, ‘and they are home.’

Normally I would be off for the poison to kill them but now my heart isn’t in it any more. I smile as I replace, ever so carefully, that ornament exactly as I found it – Mr. Slug will be pleased. Happiness envelopes me.

Looking at the smartphone I realize it is nearly one o’clock – time for lunch! Going back indoors and away from the outdoor brightness it takes my eyesight a little time to adjust. Once my snack is prepared I happily take it and myself to the conservatory, intent upon gaining the window seat overlooking our garden. But boy, am I in for a surprise? Sitting in that window seat, a wonderful smile upon her face, is my wife.

Startled at first, and then feeling a little guilty about my morning’s mini-safari, I defensively ask ‘I didn’t hear you come in?’, sitting hurriedly in the nearest chair.

‘The car had to go to the mechanic today, remember? I’m home a good while now. I walked back!’ she explains matter-of-factly, continuing with mischief in her eyes, ‘you seem to be busy today – what with pulling and tearing the garden apart and everything?’

‘Checking for wood lice’ I answer, giving her the first wild thought that comes into my mind, ‘didn’t find any though.’

Silence descends. That’s not surprising after nearly forty years of marriage. But what happens next is. I hear low chuckles escaping and then full bodied laughter. My wife is laughing – uncontrollably, unrestrainedly.

‘She’s laughing at me; she thinks I’m a fool.’ I assume as I snarl-bite into my sandwich, crossing one leg over the other and turning my body away from her, all at the same time.

‘You know how we’ve been married for nearly forty years?’ she states, then pauses for what seems an age as she catches her breath from all of the laughing, before continuing, ‘Sitting here for the last hour watching you it occurs to me that I haven’t seen such delight and happiness on your face in a long time. Whatever it is that you found I would love for you to share it with me?’

My adorable wife – she too is a mystery!

 

 

visit, I feel braver all the same.

Underneath the pristine canopy, in the weedy wilderness chaos appears to reign. Marching through this mini jungle are beautiful ladybirds. I’m not quite sure what to do with such wildness. If I kill it will I also kill the ladybirds? Should I ignore what my mind suggests about pulling out those weeds? My heart wins. It is more fun to partake in this secret life, an audience of one in this non-choreographed, wondrous play.

The summer sunshine beats down upon my exposed, bare legs and ankles whilst my body and head burrow their way further beneath the green, flowering roof. I am eagerly on the scent, hunting, chasing unknown life. Whether to hunt them down and kill them, expel or welcome them is yet to be decided. But for now I am simply enjoying exploring this ordinary garden’s secret life.

You may imagine I am a young boy or even an indolent teenager but the truth is I am age sixty three. You might think me a lazy lay-about but it’s something else entirely. You see until now I had not realized that this simple, ornamental garden holds hidden delight and mystery.

I’m wearing shorts, knee pads, garden gloves and t-shirt; these are absolutely no match for the hard soil and spiky thorns. Scratches appear on my arms and I can feel hard little stones cut into my skin as I shimmy along the unyielding ground. My hair is like a collector’s broom, full of dead leaves, bits of twigs, dried tree bark and cobwebs. Unexpectedly, something else accompanies me – a sense of adventure and a child-like delight in simple things. Fleeting moments of unforeseen happiness and lightness of being invade my soul. I smile for no reason; no reason at all!

The garden is not very big. It measures 15 metres by 12 metres, mostly laid out in lawn. The grass carpet is back-dropped by mature shrubbery; along the front are flowerbeds. Suddenly, on impulse, a happy thought occurs to me.

‘Do the flower beds hold wildlife too? Are all the pristine shrubs and flowers harbingers of unknown life?’ I ask myself, continuing ‘Is this orderly, ordered garden a sanctuary for illegal, unapproved, uninvited aliens – beetles, worms, bees, weeds, butterflies, bugs of all kinds, birds, mice, etc., etc.?’

I need a break to digest this onslaught of new knowledge. Rest is required. Returning to the garden recliner I feel the latent heat held in that chair radiate through tired bones. Oh what joy!

Lazy eyelids begin to droop; half asleep, my mind fades into stillness. But a disturbance in paradise agitates me from my tranquillity. Suddenly I am wide awake. Somehow my half-closed eyes have detected flighty comings and goings over in the wedding-cake tree. What is going on? An investigation is required.

Armed with a trusty garden hoe I advance upon the said plant. Resplendent in its majesty, conjoining the shrubs and flower beds, concealing the far-off, boundary wall, the tree dwarfs me and everything else in the garden. It stands over three times my height whist being at least 3 metres wide at the base, with layers of branches and leaves right down to the ground. Very carefully, using the handle of the gardening tool I separate the branches; looking for I know not what. Parting of the way is carried out with gentle sensitivity because if any branches or branchlets get damaged I will have some explaining to do. My adorable wife adores this tree.

Suddenly, from the nearby dwarf, flowering, crab tree comes plaintive, angry chattering. A tiny little bird is putting up a most awful commotion. I wonder ‘What is annoying her?’ Then it dawns on me. She is upset because I am invading her place – ‘her place,’ I ask myself with irony, ‘I thought I owned this place?’ – and she is determinedly trying to drive me away. I decide to ignore her and advance further into the foliage, all the time dividing the way with the hoe. Soon I am protected by branches and leaves. Whilst indignant chirping follows me the bird herself does not. Glad of that fact I relax now, having feared that she may attack, even if she is a tiny, little thing.

Inside, my eyesight adjusts to the new environment. At first I do not distinguish just what caused all of those flights to and from this tree. Then I see it – a bird’s nest. Ah! So that’s what she didn’t want me to discover. No wonder! Mammy didn’t want her little home disturbed. Here is one more secret my garden is giving up.

Temporarily pondering the fact that all of my spraying, pruning, cutting, weeding, killing has been in vain I laugh at myself. There is a mystery here bigger than me. Deciding to forget about such matters for now, once more I return delighted attention to this find.

That nest is made of dried mud and shaped somewhat like a beehive. The outside is trimmed with faded, green-brown, weather-beaten moss. Cunningly camouflaged, it rests securely within the crook of an upside-down triangle, naturally formed by the branches. There is no door of course, just an opening about centre ways between top and bottom. I peep inside. There is a tiny, saucer-shaped bed lined with soft feathers. From it I see four, yellow, little beaks rising up, fighting to be first to the opening, to food. I gaze delightedly. ‘So this is what’s happening in my garden.’ I muse in astonishment, ‘Inside our expensive wedding-cake tree is a bird’s nest where she is now raising her four little chicks. Wow!’

Returning once again to the warm garden seat I sit and ponder at the delights and mystery discovered this morning. Nothing has changed and yet everything has. A garden designed for aesthetic beauty now holds mystery and delights never before seen. The irony is that this pleasure has always awaited me had I but looked through freshly opened eyes. This then gives me another idea.

First though I check if my adorable partner is still out. I want to act in secret – afraid that if she sees me doing what I am about to do next she will think I’m off my rocker.

‘Ah; no sign of the car back yet,’ I comment to myself, ‘she’s still shopping so.’

Walking to the flower bed, ever so carefully I lift up a piece of statuary, an ornamental plant stand. Bingo! Underneath are little creepy crawly things, all racing hither and thither from the sudden onslaught of light. There are black beetles as well as earwigs; earthworms and little fat slugs; all lying in the damp earth. ‘Oh how wondrous is this?’ I ask myself.

When I think of all the years spent trimming around the base of this garden ornament I am astonished that never once have I allowed myself the fun of looking beneath. I sit back on my haunches and watch the zoo of aliens depart, searching for darkness and safety; leaving slow, slow moving slug stuck there, exposed to the heat. But what’s that I spy clinging on to the underside of the plinth of said ornament? ‘This requires detailed inspection.’ I think to myself, fishing reading glasses from my pocket. Down now on my knees for a closer look I see that they are tiny snail houses. Fetching a twig I poke at them gently. Some roll away with a brittle fine china sound – suggesting they are empty. But one or two continue to cling to the cement. ‘More guests,’ I assume, ‘and they are home.’

Normally I would be off for the poison to kill them but now my heart isn’t in it any more. I smile as I replace, ever so carefully, that ornament exactly as I found it – Mr. Slug will be pleased. Happiness envelopes me.

Looking at the smartphone I realize it is nearly one o’clock – time for lunch! Going back indoors and away from the outdoor brightness it takes my eyesight a little time to adjust. Once my snack is prepared I happily take it and myself to the conservatory, intent upon gaining the window seat overlooking our garden. But boy, am I in for a surprise? Sitting in that window seat, a wonderful smile upon her face, is my wife.

Startled at first, and then feeling a little guilty about my morning’s mini-safari, I defensively ask ‘I didn’t hear you come in?’, sitting hurriedly in the nearest chair.

‘The car had to go to the mechanic today, remember? I’m home a good while now. I walked back!’ she explains matter-of-factly, continuing with mischief in her eyes, ‘you seem to be busy today – what with pulling and tearing the garden apart and everything?’

‘Checking for wood lice’ I answer, giving her the first wild thought that comes into my mind, ‘didn’t find any though.’

Silence descends. That’s not surprising after nearly forty years of marriage. But what happens next is. I hear low chuckles escaping and then full bodied laughter. My wife is laughing – uncontrollably, unrestrainedly.

‘She’s laughing at me; she thinks I’m a fool.’ I assume as I snarl-bite into my sandwich, crossing one leg over the other and turning my body away from her, all at the same time.

‘You know how we’ve been married for nearly forty years?’ she states, then pauses for what seems an age as she catches her breath from all of the laughing, before continuing, ‘Sitting here for the last hour watching you it occurs to me that I haven’t seen such delight and happiness on your face in a long time. Whatever it is that you found I would love for you to share it with me?’

My adorable wife – she too is a mystery!

 

 

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