I was in the garden today when I asked myself, “How long have I been looking at this onion for?” I have never planted onions before and I am intrigued by how they grow. I am also a little concerned because they are not as big as my Dad’s onions. I may have onion-envy. I was studying one particular onion when I asked myself this question, because it seemed to be growing faster than the rest. An early-adopter onion. I don’t think I looked at the other sixteen onions just as much. At least I hope I didn’t, because if I spent even ninety seconds looking at each individual onion, then I had just spent over twenty-five minutes looking at onions. And that wouldn’t even include how long I looked at the potatoes.
I have planted eighteen seed potatoes, and so far only fifteen have come up. I gave in to temptation at the weekend and scraped back the soil of the very first one I planted to see where it was. When I saw the little tuber growing, I actually asked it why it hadn’t made it to the surface yet, like its brothers and sisters. It seemed to be growing sideways, not upwards. I felt I should do something, but wasn’t sure what. I don’t really have gardening skills, I have teaching skills, but a short seminar on “Breaking Free: Practical Help for Finding the Surface” seemed inappropriate. What I was conversing with, at the end of the day, was just a very small potato.
On the upside, I have now ruled out last week’s idea to measure samples of the new blades of grass (growing in the circle where the dead trampoline used to be) and compile it on an Excel sheet so that I could plot a graph. Or series of graphs. Excel is great for stuff like that. But I definitely spend far too much time looking at other things I have planted. I find myself saying things like “that wee leaf wasn’t there yesterday” or “I wonder will very heavy rain damage that shoot.” I can’t understand how nature has done without me all these millions of years. It’s only when I pull back, I realise I have been staring at a minute green thing, for, well, I don’t know how long. Time just seems to slip away these days.
My children are concerned. My wife reliably informs me that while I was in the front garden today, they were in the living room discussing, at length, why I was looking at the sky. I might have been listening to blackbirds calling and responding to each other. I never noticed that before. I quite like that, and it’s good to know that if Virgin media goes down again, I have an alternative to Netflix.
But mostly I am consumed with tiny things growing. I am not the only one. We went out for a walk last week and I came home with four cucumber seedlings in tiny pots and three butternut squash seedlings in a large pot, given to me by two other people also consumed with growing things. One of them even referred to the butternut squashes as “my babies”. This made me feel better for trying to coach a seed potato.
It was on another walk this evening I realised, that aside from talking about the garden, I have nothing else to tell my wife. At one point, I pointed at someone’s driveway and said, “Oh look! A stepladder.” It was at this point she said, “I might commit a crime just to make something interesting happen.”