The Gross And Wonderful Work

Two small children, aged 3 and 4, sit on a bright kayak on grass, pretending to paddle through lava


Thursday was hot like all the other days. Everyone had a warm glow like barbeque glaze.
We had planned to go to the land but babysitting duties intervened. Grandchildren 6 & 7 (we have numbered our blessings) came to have garden adventures while their mother attended Grandchild 2’s Junior School Leavers’ Day Assembly.
After surviving our lawn being lava, and an attack of maffive spiders (Maffive? Yeah, really big, Granma, maffive!) and this evening’s heat-hazed Tae Kwon-Do sessions (having returned Gs 6&7 to tell their tales) we, in the van, with a snoozy Dog, headed landwards, to be ready for an early start.
We took a turn around the newly cut fields, soaking in the cooler evening air, serenaded by medieval music - minstrels at a nearby wedding, most likely, another celebratory moment.
There were tiny bats circling a sycamore tree, there were evening primrose flowers glowing in the lowing light. Old Dog, loving the ease of the short grass, sprang into a joyful run; old limbs and puppy energy.
We sat outside, listening to the music, bat watching, star gazing through dappled clouds, drinking red wine, feeling our clothes go from sweat-damp to night-damp; and occasionally sniffing an armpit and laughing because things can be so gross and wonderful at the same time.
Friday began with coffee, of course, and squinting into the sun. Dog lay on her bed until breakfast seemed like an option.
Over our grubby skin we layered sunscreen, then clothing to deter horsefly bites.
We hefted out the first roll of terram (a weed suppressing membrane) to the flat area in the lower field.
This area, with a combination of hard work, mistakes rectified, and luck, will one day be our outdoor all-weather training area, suitable for martial arts, yoga, fitness classes, meditators, basket weavers (they need space for those willow whips) and suchlike. As much as possible our whole site will be wheelchair and disability friendly too.
(We have adorable plans for the top field - that’s for another post.)
Rolling it out was the easy part. Carrying pavers and logs and telegraph poles to be sure our terram didn’t blow away, that was the tough bit. Also hammering tent pegs into rocky ground, whilst sitting or stooping over hot black plastic. Excellent stamina and strength training, of course, and my grip has become fearsome.
I think I sweated a river: a river of rivulets.
Horseflies landed on us, but only one bite, leaving an itchy lump on my forearm. I had rolled up my sleeve whilst rehydrating. Walking to and from the tap felt like unnecessary extra work, but the tap was in shade so it was also a reward.
In the light was instant heat, in the shade was a slow, soul-level, appreciated cooling.
We had hoped to get all the areas covered in one day, which of course was wishful: it was better for one area to be done properly.
When it was finished (enough, for now - later we will add more weight to be sure it can survive storms) we filmed ourselves performing two Tae Kwon-Do patterns: ChonJi tul, the beginning, and Dan Gun tul, the foundation.
We were in socks, sliding, hot-footed, and dripping in sweat. Dog wandered out to join us- she kept doing this all day, and got herself overheated too - we led her back to shelter all day, but she longs to be involved.
Dipped her in the old bath to cool off before the journey home. Highly tempted to get in myself (wouldn’t be the first time).
At home: big late breakfast, big naps, big showers. Washing on the line.
It’s divine, all this cleanliness.
Mr watches the video and critiques his patterns. Lazy hands, he says.
I don’t think we’ve been lazy today, but we definitely smelt bad.

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