Sunday, 8 July 2012

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

And now for something a little more personal again. My saintly diet went on holiday for the weekend. I shall loftily call it a religious retreat as there was a christening involved. And wine. For those interested in the state of my diet grace, we had a lovely light pasta dinner on Friday, then a Saturday Chinese, followed by a buffet lunch on Sunday with rather yummy sparking wine.


However the food is incidental to the amazing weekend that my friends and I had. Yes food is always important at family-friend gatherings but as we were preparing for both a joint christening and 1st birthday party there was plenty of work to be done before the serving of food.

Turns out there was a to do list because unlike me my friends are organised. Not only that but it was split into two. SHE being super efficient had pretty much done all her tasks (plus other bits) whereas HE was lagging behind. Alright, he hadn't actually started.

The excuse was he'd taken his eldest on a sponsored walk. Strolling round Yeadon Tarn of a noon on Saturday was fabulous. With the sun finally breaking through, the chatter of kids, welly filling puddles, ginormous ice creams, deep luscious greenery, colourful yachts... After a natter we headed back for a bacon sarny. Obviously we deserved it, we had walked nearly a whole mile.

When not lazing in the sunshine with a glass of something I like to be useful. Yes really. And despite a reputation for theoretical gardening expertise and a love of exploring other peoples' greenfingery, it's been a while since I rolled up my sleeves and set about with a fork. At least thirty years in fact, so it's all as hazy a summer morning, horticulturally.

After a small amount of supervising (laughing at HIM clean the garden table and get the water feature functioning, and start destroying stuff) I was given violas and other bits to plant. I set about it in the same way as I do my cooking; lots of enthusiasm, armfuls of mess and a result though perfectly OK, rather lacking in finesse. The small fir will probably always have a lean but the pinks were absolutely co-ordinated.

All I could think of when I was swanning around the sunny garden with flowers, damp compost, watering can and sun cream was the nursery rhyme,

Mary Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row

The cultured one was for that moment utterly seduced by the warm absorption and cool soil, hands turning darker by the moment in the careful handling of the dirty dainty flowers. The purples were arranged artistically and left to recover their wits and stretch their roots happily. I was filthy. And happier than I'd been in ages.

My contrary nature tends to revolt against anything so time consumingly domesticated but given the simple pleasure gained from this task, it made me pine slightly for something more elemental in my life. Contemplating the future religious event, I was able to think about my feelings clearly and happily in those moments.

Today when I made those simple promises to this lovely little boy, I thought back to those garden displays I'd created. And I didn't feel too guilty about my want of faith because the beautiful things about this weekend had all led to this light filled happy moment. The walk in the sun, the little ones' smiles, holding a child's hand, the love of my friends and above all, being at peace.

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