Sunday 20 May 2018


At last our natural world here in the west of Ireland is bursting with life. I can feel underneath me as I walk a burgeoning latent power, eager to rise, erupt, unfurl and bloom, to blossom and produce fruit.

After that long winter our local ecosystem is in a heck of a hurry to catch up with itself. The dazzling white flowers on the leaf of the hawthorn arrived this year while there were still white flowers on the buds of the blackthorn. 

With bluebells dancing alongside primroses, everyone in the ground is shaking their natural booty thang together this spring.

Given a few hours of solitude and an absence of rain, your scribbler has been out there too, fulfilling - or rather, trying to avoid repeating - my annual destiny.

Until the compost I made last year is spread, I can’t start to make compost once again.

Of course I can, but within my neurotic little existence and the chaos that is my brainbox, this seasonal ritual creates a tiny bit of order.

Each year I lift the grey plastic sheet, reveal the new compost, and proceed to load the wheelbarrow, at some point completely screwing up my back and carrying on regardless.

Has to be done, dammit.
Nothing more important for the soil - gaaawooorr! - and what did I go to all the trouble of making it for, if I’m so feeble a man I can’t even spread my own

ooh ooh ca-ha-hoooghhh 


... compost?

This year I set a target of weeding the wildflower bed and shifting the compost without leaving myself on anti-inflammatories and heat pads. 

Thankfully I’ve a secret weapon, in the shape of ten stretches which I do, well, not exactly every morning, but 5 in 7, or 4 maybe, but you know, I do them and thank goodness.

They take about 25 minutes and have transformed my life.

As I sit here now, a couple of hours after the muck spreading, I’m not exactly pain free, but as the enlightened physiotherapist advised me, that’s because I’ve been using my muscles. 

I am, however, intact and mobile. Victory is mine, even if it’s a feeble one over my own body.

Last year’s waste turned this year’s goodness has now been returned to the soil. The roses, soft fruit, forsythia and the two purply bushes I don’t know the name for have more than a fighting chance of thriving.

That makes me feel good, because despite living in the First World, where everything is instantly available, we have not lost our animalistic need to grow food; to excel outdoors; to understand the land we share with plants and animals.

There’s a reason gardening makes good therapy. What else is 'grounding' if not sticking your hands in the soil? More than anything else, planting is what has led to the debatable success of our species.

The soil has allowed us to thrive. Without its ability to grow plants to order, we would still be in caves. Maybe that’s why I find pleasure in restoring some of what we’ve taken, to nurture future growth: it’s a kind of a thank you, and please can we have some more?

There are simple delights and benefits to being outside, and much to give thanks for here.

Our Galway air comes clean and fresh off three thousand miles of Atlantic Ocean, as the lichens on our local rocks will attest.

After months of storms and floods we here in the west of Ireland drain every droplet of joy and Vitamin D from the warmth of our May sunshine, because oh, there, it’s gone again, until that cloud passes.

Tomorrow I’m mowing the lawn, yet as I look down at it now, I already feel guilty. The first few cuts this year I had the blades lifted, partly because it’s best for the grass, and partly because I’m a soft git.

All those dandelions are keeping bumblebees happy and buzzing along. By tomorrow lunchtime they’ll all be gone.

Admittedly in the surrounding fields there are 20 billion kazillion more, but, well, as I say, I’m a soft git: the same nurturing soul thrilled to see the birds I fed over the winter at this moment dining on beasties in the flower beds.

It’s Saturday morning yet inside the living room the fire sits unlit. Football Focus has not been watched (yet).

I’m out: a grateful animal, gambolling in pastures, physical and spiritual.

This morning has been great, my energy reflecting the excited levels of spring. As well as the compost, I’ve done three loads of laundry, now 
flapping on the line in the stiff breeze and sunshine.

The swallows who live in the barn are back and flying low, which usually means low pressure and rain coming in, but not today. 

They all agree, the BBC and RTE, the app and what we can actually see:
we’ve a couple of dry days clear and no mistake.

Ah there. That’s what the swallows are after. 

Another bunch of flying somethings, hatching out of Lough Corrib, just down the bohreen.

I know the mayflies and the damselflies, but I’m no expert. We see a lot of hatches round these parts, but I’ve no idea what these abundant little fellas might be.

However, I do appreciate how it’s lifting my spirits to sit here, enjoying the healthy ache of bodily labours, while a mere few feet in front of me, nature’s aerial acrobats are feasting on the wing.

Better go and have a shower now.
Just realised that yer man isn’t spreading slurry.

That whiff is me.

©Charlie Adley


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