Before and After

My morning musings were interrupted today by an enthusiastic kiss from the dog, whom Keith had let out on his way to the gym, immediately followed by the rumblings of doom and, as inexorably follows, a large deposit of dog sick on the duvet. A long lie on Monday clearly is too much to ask…

However, having showered and set to, with emergency laundry added to the morning routine, I continued to ponder the rag bag of human opposites which constitutes our family. Everyone, I think, has a little mental list of things they think they want or need to do in a day. The dutiful will fill their list with pressing tasks, the flighty with tempting projects and most of us with a rag bag of the two, including one faintly scratched in item which you can’t read, barely recall but have a worrying sense that it may be overdue. Tedious quotidian tasks, which rather go without saying, never make it to the hallowed lines of The Daily List, they are the background watermark. Excitements, of the, say, dog vomit variety are also rarely scheduled in. I am coming to the conclusion that one of life’s great divides is how one reacts to such “off liste” matters. A well nigh unbridgeable chasm, filled with the churning waves of domestic ire, lies between the way of the Before and After tribes.

Faced with a sink of last night’s dishes, a blown over and broken flower pot or an unexpectedly poorly orchid, say, the Before person will roll up their sleeves and seek to “clear the decks’ before getting to the day’s list. The After person will grit their teeth and, undaunted, steadily work through the list, adding the new trials on to be resolved as new items at the end. In splendid isolation this works swimmingly, but together…? Poor old After feels beleaguered and badgered, it is perfectly obvious the lawn must be mowed first and this was a known and declared plan. Poor old Before simply can’t get on with pricking out and baking until the decks are swabbed. The answer may lie in a combination of blinkers and earplugs…

One solution, of course, is to abandon the scene of the crime altogether. With this in mind, Lyra and I hit the fields a few days ago. All of a sudden we are almost at peak yellow. What had been blueish cabbagy mounds the last time we passed that way are now vast blocks of musky scented yellow rape flowers and the verges are full of shaggy dandelions. By the little shooting wood there are tiny wild strawberry flowers and gooseberries in the hedges, so the promise of fine pickings in a few months. The sumptuary advice from the hedgerow, remains one of caution – cloots on. Whilst blossomy twigs of blackthorn teased through the hawthorn might lead the unobservant to consider removing their thermals, the May is definitely not out and Granny witch is still sporting hers – as well as two jumpers.

In the blossomy tree stakes, whilst our pears and cherries are putting out a spirited performance, the laurels have to go to mum’s Magnolias – which have been stunning for a week and surprisingly strongly scented. I wonder if our little specimens will ever get so big. The one outside the library has been there for a good seven years and seems hardly to have grown an inch. That said, Mum has previous on growing miniature plants to enormous sizes – she has a dwarf rhododendron (Grumpy) of about five foot in stature.

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