I mowed the lawn on Monday. It was partly desperation – at having an ankle-deep jungle out there, and L going crazy in the kitchen cooking for our Easter Monday drinks party in here – and partly a challenge: could I, would I manage to do it in that half-hour window of opportunity between a rare sunny, windy, drying morning and the next infuriating downpour? I did.
The soi-disant lawn is patchy and bare, and far more weed than grass. At an Easter lunch party last Sunday I was, in my inverted-snobby way, gloating about my hugely environmentally aware water-saving sward and how I was happy to live with less-than-perfection in order to squat firmly and in self-satisfied fashion on my high ecological moral ground. (I didn’t quite put it like that, but that was clearly what I was implying to my neighbour at table who was lamenting horrific energy bills to pump up sufficient water to keep his immaculate lawn bowling-green pristine.) And of course, in theory, I am inordinately proud of my dogged extremism.
But now that I have sliced off the first few centimetres (I kept my blade nice and high for this first onslaught), the huge bald rocky patches are horribly prominent. It took all my determination to maintain the usual levels of smugness, I tell you.
All the more reason to begin my step-by-step lawn regeneration programme. A small chunk at a time. It may, of course, prove to be a Golden Gate bridge kind of exercise: get to the end and find I have to start all over from scratch. But this year I shall try to revamp the square outside the chicken house and the strip outside the front door. That’s more than enough to keep me busy. And who knows, if I bother to top up the soil levels and get some seed in, sod’s law might kick in and the heavens might take it as a signal to stop dumping water on us. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.
I have just totted up how much rain has fallen since January 7 which is when my records began (yes, this activity does, I admit, make it sound like I should get out more, but I find it fascinating). I have persevered bravely with my obsessive recording of the contents of my wonderful new rain gauge and the total so far this year has been … 410mm. Now, according to this chart the total to date should have been around 188mm which sounds to me like we’ve had much more than our fair share. It’s really time it came to an end.
If it doesn’t take my seed-sowing as a signal to dry up, maybe it will oblige L by doing so next week when he climbs on to his snazzy new bike and sets off with my brother-in-law who is jetting in from London specially in order to stave off troughs of mid-life crisis by doing L’Eroica. Two hundred and nine kilometres is silly. Two hundred and nine kilometres in the rain is idiotic.
They are approaching the route in a (relatively) leisurely way, taking three days over it rather than doing it in one horrendous day like the real Eroica racers do in October. If the rain does hold off (and the forecast, for the moment, says it should) and if they can summon up the energy to raise their heads and look around, the spectacle of spring finally arriving in the hills of Chianti and the Val d’Orcia should be quite wonderful. L is trying to arrange one luxurious night at Castiglion del Bosco which lies right on the route. And if they make it in one piece to the end I’ll meet them and take them to put some calories back in at La Bandita Townhouse in Pienza, the brand new hostelry/eaterie of our inspired friend John Voigtmann. A fitting reward.