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So yes. The Mom’s lawn. I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. There’s a funny streak of normalcy in her neighbourhood, where everyone goes to whatever DIY shops are called back home now, Wal-Mart I guess, and buys lawn stuff, and then brings it home and makes their grass all nice and straight, and puts flowers round the edges. It’s not that it looks bad it’s just really boring. Everything looks the same. I’ve never understood this look. I’ve never subscribed to it either. Of course, I’ve also never had my own lawn.

But I’m never one to let the small details in life hold me back.

So when I was the child-in-residence chez The Mom, part of my requirements were to help out with heavy lifting and general outdoors business. And you’d think that would be easy enough – you know, The Mom would hand me a shovel and point toward the bottom of the garden and say, “Go and dig that up.” Which is pretty much the opposite of what she tells the dog to do. I’d hobble down, with the dog, and we’d sort of look at each other like, Yeah I’m just as confused as you are but let’s face it, she’s not letting us back in until there’s a hole here, so you know, I’ll start on this side.

What I’m saying is that gardening is a lot harder than it looks. It’s more than just dig a hole here, put some stuff there. Which leads me to wonder why everyone else is spending so much extra time making it all exactly the same as everyone else’s. That must take double the time – time which could be spent drinking beer, reading books, or swimming.

Anyhow, sometimes during my residency The Mom would give me the keys to the car so I could drive around and pretend I was actually an adult in her mid-thirties with a PhD and a lot of life experience. Not too often, mind, lest my despair flare up. Once, I was at, maybe the grocery store, or maybe the hardware store (which I like a lot because it smells nice, the back entrance is secretive and weird, and you can run your hands through buckets of screws and washers and things), anyhow I bought some packets of seeds. Ones that advertised themselves as being good to encourage bees.  Now, the plight of bees is one of the things I worry about a lot which is to say that I talk about it a lot and sometimes just run around the house saying beeeeeessssss. (I watch a lot Eddie Izzard shows). So I’m very much in support of helping them out, as they are pollinators and obviously that’s helpful. I proffered my seeds to The Mom hoping that she would know what to do with them.

I believe I was met with a face that said, ‘For someone with a PhD and a lot of life experience you’re a complete idiot.’

What she actually said was along the lines of, “I don’t think you can turn the backyard into a meadow but you’re welcome to try.”

“Do I take each seed and put it in the earth individually, like we did when we were kids and learned to grow beans in school?”


“Which part, what?”


“Each seed, like, in a hole of its own, two fingers apart?”

“No. I think sprinkling.”

“Like salt?”

“Yes. The bean?”

“We grew beans in egg cartons. Magical.”

“Magic beans in school. Explains a lot.”

Anyhow, I went out and salted the garden with my seeds. And then I waited. Every day I’d go out and look at the dirt. Nothing. Every day I’d come back inside, disappointed, and seeing this as some kind of metaphor for my life.

But now, to hear The Mom tell it, the back yard is awash in a sea of very random flowers. For which I am fully taking responsibility. This grass with flowers around the edges is about as much fun as an Army haircut. What’s the point? The weirdness of The Mom’s lawn and garden is tremendous, it cries free spirit who will not be hemmed in by society’s random and ill-fitting norms.

At first, it was just weird purple crop circles. Those I think were from the duck food. Seeds, innit. Then there were the daisies – they’re my favourite because they sprout in a crop-circle right where we’ve always put the garbage out. So we had to put the garbage on the other side of the lawn now because of the daisies. There’s something truly wonderful about the way nature is asserting herself at The Mom’s. It’s just being as weird as everybody else associated with that place.

And now, something of a meadow developing in back. It’s almost enough to spend £800 to fly home just to see it in its true glory. I shall consider that next spring.