Making a stand

This morning, I found myself acting as a human shield. This was a surprise. You get used to playing all sorts of roles in a garden: arbitrator between warring shrubs, rescuer of stranded insects (bees in the tool-box), constructor of installations great and small to support plants. But a human shield?

Our lawn mower has been unreliable for weeks, which is odd for an imported machine of a ‘superior’ brand. By this week, desperate measures were called for and I asked one of the local free-wheeling gardeners to do the mowing using his own machine. We haggled about the price, I set down the ground rules about respect for the plants, he set to work…

So: mowing the lawn means just that, and only that. Anything else in the garden – shrubbery, fruit trees, water dishes for the bees and the dog, potted plants – forget it! It was futile to protest and, as work proceeded, I dashed from one place to the next to stand four-square in front of anything precious, fully prepared to make my last stand in front of our much-loved and last-surviving lavender plant.

Garden lawn 9:13

Remarkably, I’m still in one piece and the “nagheela” (lawn) looks brilliant. Note the pergola at the far right corner: commissioned about 18 months ago this was supposed to be a delicate structure arching stylishly above an area with table and seats. What we got was a cast iron monstrosity, which we named “Muhatta Ramses” (Ramses station) in reference to the horribly renovated main railway station in downtown Cairo. And no, we don’t sit underneath it, as the contractor omitted to secure it correctly in the ground; but the birds love it.

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