And I held the phone well away from my ear
I dimly heard ‘So will you be a pet and come over?’
A’s messages are always the same.
Full of dramas!
And equally of a kind of inspired optimism that, despite the extreme precariousness of her chaotic artist’s life, all will turn out well:
‘I’m sure you can sort it out darling.’
Having peppered the message throughout with rather dated endearments she always signs off suddenly ‘Oodles of love!’ Bless…..
And so of course I drove round to the other side of the toast rack of streets where we live. I rarely walk anywhere voluntarily. I walk so much in my work.
It was , as so often at A’s, all a bit of a drama in a tea cup.
A had forgotten to prune her vines in the dead of winter. An abrupt mild spell recently convinced many on twitter that Spring was here. Of course it is not, but will be shortly.
If vines are pruned when the sap rises in the spring they bleed, which can go on for hours and which, while it may not kill, does constitutionally weaken and worry the poor gardener. It is a job best done in the dead of winter rather than now as we hover uneasily waiting for spring.
A saw herself locked into coexisting with a rats nest tangle of last year’s growth all summer. Which would simply get more confused as the year wore on. I am surprised it mattered, because the whole of A’s life is one confused tangle and there was in all conscience enough mess elsewhere.
But of course she is, as are most artists in my experience, more than capable of an abrupt change of tack. ‘Can’t wait for a clear out, darling’. She’s obviously heading out of a rather prolonged dreamy impressionistic phase into a more starkly abstract and minimalist period. I sighed. Those efforts of hers never sell very well whereas ‘chocolate box monet-esque’ does at least pay the bills!
Also thinking practically, if she ever does, the vine dresses the pergola above her rickety outside table and collapsing chairs. This arbour is a key facet of A’s life. Many an evening gathering takes place here and goes on well into the small hours. Their noisy artistic discussions must drive the neighbours nuts!
I tried just one cut on a minor stem of the vine. We had a cup of tea. And I went back to look.
No, no sap rising. She could cut the whole lot off, back to the lowest bud if she chose. ‘You are clever to know that darling.’
I wished her luck. It would be a cold job because as abruptly as the mild weather arrived we seem to have veered back into winter.
‘Have another cup of tea and I’ve made one of my special carrot cakes.’
Now I know from bitter experience that, looking like shredded rye bread condensed into a sunken disc of a rusk like density, A’s carrot cake causes indigestion of epic proportions.
‘I’m just off out for lunch and don’t want to spoil my appetite.’
She didn’t look like she believed me. But I went on my way.
There’s only so much a guy can do.
But the point remains.
Keep at these tidying jobs over winter, taking advantage of mild spells to do work which is definitely more congenial, and take care when you prune your vines.