Saturday, 29 September 2007

Widow's Biceps

I'm recovering from what I hope will be the last grass cut of the season. This year was the first year that I had to cope with all the grass cutting completely alone and I was worried that I wouldn't manage. But I was determined to try. I reckoned that if I couldn't cope then I would have to move. The house and the land are really too much for one person - too big, too much work - but I was not ready to move away and leave behind the memories of my life with my husband, unless there was no alternative.

So I decided that if I could manage the grass - and there's a lot of it - then I might be able to stay on here; if not, then that would be telling me something too.

And I have survived! In fact, I am fitter and stronger, thanks to all the work, than I have been in twenty years. It is demanding work and takes 6-8 hours every ten days or so - that is, four one-and-a-half hour sessions to get it all done. That is a lot of pushing and pulling on a slope! I've got muscles in places I didn't know I had and biceps the size of - well, what biceps are supposed to look like.

So I have proved something to myself. I have kept on top of the grass on my own for a year. But it takes a lot of time which means that other things, not least the interesting work in the garden, is neglected. I wondered why the garden was so weedy and was berating myself for not staying on top of it. But then I realised that, as it takes four sessions to cut the grass, the first four dry days in a ten-day period (and this is Scotland so dry days are not that frequent!) are taken up by the damned grass. I can't start on the weeding, never mind planting, or sitting around watching the flowers grow, until the fifth session. Usually there have been a rainy few days, so by the fifth session the grass needs cutting again.

Also, although I'm not that old, I'm not going to get any younger as the years pass - damnable isn't it? If I found the grass cutting hard going this year, what will it be like in five years, or ten?

So today, as I finished the last cut of the hardest, steepest patch of grass, I patted myself on the back - or would have if I'd had the energy. As it was I was completely knackered. Why am I doing this? Who am I doing it for? I've proved to myself, and the world, that I can run the place single-handed. But am I enjoying it? That's the question now. It's a pig.

Or maybe the question has as much to do with being more ready to move on, as with the effort involved in keeping the grass down. In March, at the beginning of the growing season, I was six months closer to the death of the Golfer. Now, at the end of September, I have spent another 180 days without him - another 180 days to get it into my thick skull that he ain't coming back and that this, whatever it is, is my life now. And I'm not sure that cutting an acre of grass on a 40 degree slope is my idea of fun in this new life.

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