Sunday, October 28, 2012

Neighbours Part II: Harvest

The Beattie’s house was next door to ours. It was pebble-dashed and had bits of moss growing in between the pebbles. I used to lean on the wall and pick out the bits with my finger. I once picked at a quite large piece, which turned out to be thousands of baby spiders, which immediately scattered all over the wall. I have struggled with moss issues ever since.

There was a large net hammock at the bottom of the Beattie’s garden. The hammock hung over a bed of hundreds of bright yellow daffodils, a very agreeable place to lie in the shade of the Birch trees and read a book about bee-keeping or listen to the afternoon play on Radio 4. One day I picked all the daffodils and put them in the holes of the hammock. Delighted with my work I ran home and collected my parents to bring them to see the great thing I had done. To my complete shock and utter disbelief, I was frogmarched to the Beattie’s door and made to apologise. (I know, right? What is that about?) I was banned from the garden for a month.

Undeterred, I got an even better idea. The front of the Price’s house was covered in vines peppered with bright red berries. They went on holiday to Scotland this one particular week, so myself, my sister and the Beattie kids picked all the berries our small arms could reach and put them into a big black bucket we found. Then we borrowed the Beattie’s Dad’s ladder and picked the higher ones. “We’ll put the bucket on top of a door and when someone opens the door all the berries will fall on them!” I said. “It’s going to be great!” everyone agreed. It took a couple of days to fill the bucket. It’s good to have a project.

Such traps work like a charm in films, but seldom in real life especially if the eldest member of your gang is 8 years old. I think we knew that – it was never really about the trap; we didn’t even try to set it up. It was like digging a really big hole – we laboured, it was enormous and sublime: thousands of berries were in the bucket because we had picked them and put them there. A more qualified person could not have done a better job. It looked spectacular, a big black bucket spilling over with super saturated bright red beads of effort. We plunged our hands in, letting the berries fall through our fingers. "Hurrah!" we cried, "look what we have acheived!"
Then it was done so we went to play rounders.

When I proudly related the success of the endeavour I was once more shocked and appalled by the largely negative reaction of my idiot parents. I failed to see any parallel with the daffodil incident. Anticipating the Price's reaction may be similar to that of my parents, we panicked and poured the evidence into the stream at the bottom of the garden. This caused a significant enough blockage to cause the water level to overflow and flood the lawn. The Price's returned to their home to find complete and utter devastation. When they dropped round a box of souvenir shortbread later that evening I was expressly forbidden from having any.

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