Yesterday was a good spring day and I enjoyed it by spending many hours farming. I passed the morning on my knees weeding in the orto. The vegetables are growing. The first potatoes are showing tips of green, and finally the parsley has germinated. After a quick lunch, oh no, as so often happens, I forgot to eat lunch… I fired up the Ape and bumbled off along the track to spend the afternoon climbing in the olive trees, giving them a prune. On hearing the burbling of the Ape engine as it reluctantly fires up ‘Hear’ jumps into the cab. She sits on the small seat like a queen on a throne. Where she expects the driver to sit is irrelevant.
Spring is here, and plants are stretching, yawning, and rubbing sleep out of their eyes as they wake after their winter slumber. Every day a new plant puts on a growth spurt, and like a new born, in one way or another they all need attention. My days are busy both in the house and in the garden.
Days are long and pleasurable. Since the hour change days seem to be so much longer, more daylight time to get the huge number of tasks ticked off the list of ‘jobs to be done pre-season opening’. Pruning olives is not a job on the list but perhaps wanting to break the routine, and with a dog wanting to explore, olive pruning seemed an obvious afternoon activity.
A very patient friend has, in past years given me countless pruning lessons. I watch amazed as he dances around, and in, an olive tree, instinctively knowing which branch to leave, which to remove. As he cuts he explains. His actions are decisive and balletic. The local advice on olive pruning is “little leaves lots of manure”. Well the actual phrase is much cruder than that 😉 The air and light has to get through the tree. I choose for my first, a tree that was only lightly pruned last year. Ok start boy. Remove the shoots growing round the trunk, remove all those luxuriant new growths in the centre of the tree canopy. The ideal shape is wine goblet Ha! Snip away dead wood, cut off the top growth that was unreachable at harvest time. Walk back, look at the tree, so far simple enough, but now for the difficult bit. I have to start pruning properly to remove unwanted growth and encourage new fruiting growth. Olives form on last year’s wood and I am always confused as to which bit to remove. I hate cutting trees, and with every branch I remove I wonder if I am mistakenly cutting the fruit bearing branch. Last year was a bumper harvest, and as olives like most fruit have one abundant year followed by one less productive year, I was feeling confident.
Like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn, in this case followed not by rats but by a multitude of busy small dogs a neighbour walked across the long sun kissed field. It was warm and I had been up high in the branches and was happy for a break. I jumped down and felt a twinge in my left foot. We chatted and gossiped for ages. Although we are immediate neighbours our houses are distant and we see each other only passing in the car or a wave down the driveway. It was good to catch up. We are a close community here in the valley, and although we may not all see each other on a daily basis the bush telegraph is reassuringly strong and supportive.
Followed by his dogs Giancarlo headed off and I went back to pruning. I’m also clearing abandoned trees and decided that cutting treelets that shade or cover the abandoned trees was uncontentious and so a good late afternoon job.
No matter how long the day, like the plants, my ‘to do’ list grows and grows. As Cyril the pool robot lazily meandered around the pool, dusk last night found me finishing pressure washing sunloungers that are now sitting poolside. As I came to the end of the task I felt a more painful twinge in my big toe. Thinks ‘ I must have stubbed it on something’. Whilst tidying away the pressure washer, hose and cable, I spot another job that is not on the list. No, by the increasing pain level it just has to be a dose of the gout. How bloody irritating. That it is, I confirmed last night back home whilst trying to cook and eat supper. I so don’t need this right now. This morning blogging with a throbbing pain running up my left leg I laugh as I write as the image comes into my brain of my having been painfully hobbling round the kitchen grabbing on to the worktop hoping not to drop the teapot. How sad is that image!
Which, by some non-link brings me to my sign off image for this post. Can someone please explain to me the reason behind the correlation between size and ostentatiousness of the car, and the incompetence level and selfishness of parking?