Sunday, February 13, 2011

There's Nowt So Queer As Folk

The people who live near Shoestring Cottage are friendly folk.  Often when I am in the front garden they stop and introduce themselves, and make flattering remarks about how pretty the garden is looking and how many improvements have been made in the short time since we moved in.  This is very gratifying, bearing in mind that I am usually ferociously ripping open bags of used coffee grounds and picking through them to remove the plastic milk bottle lids which are mixed in with the grounds.  I must look a trifle eccentric if not actually demented, usually having my spectacles all steamed up and being liberally coated in coffee grounds.    

Last weekend one gentleman stopped to chat.  He clambered up off the footpath and onto the little front garden so as to lean on the picket fence and make conversation easier.  (I wondered whether I might ask him to be careful of my baby plants, but thought that as I already had one probable black mark against me, being from Auckland and all, I should hold my tongue.)  My nana and grandad came from Yorkshire and I wondered if he might hail from that part of the world also; his accent seemed similar to theirs.  I seemed to remember that people from Yorkshire are famed for their desire to "Speak as you find."  He told me had lived here for about 12 years and when I waxed enthusiastic about the town he agreed wholeheartedly and said he had been very happy there.  Of course, I knew that it was a very high wind area?  No, I had not known that.  In fact I had often thought that even if the wind was howling ferociously in other areas, it was very sheltered around Shoestring Cottage.  No no no, that was quite wrong apparently!  It was a well known fact that it was very windy all around this area and that the wind funnelled down off the mountain.  Well how surprising, you learn something every day!  And then there were the earthquakes, it was very prone to earthquakes.  (I privately disregarded this information.  After all, the whole country is earthquake prone surely?  Nowhere is safe?  I knew people who had been born here and returned from other parts of New Zealand, and they had never mentioned being particularly worried about earthquakes.)  Then there was the flooding, oh dreadful flooding around the whole town.  I did know there had been extensive flooding once in the 1980s, but hadn't extensive remedial work been done up in the hills to ensure there would not be a repeat?  Oh, that was what they said but you never could tell.  Another similar flood could be just around the corner apparently.

Having imparted this alarming information my new acquaintance started telling me about his latest letter to the editor of the local newspaper.  We chatted for a while longer and then he stepped off my garden (I was relieved to see not too much damage had been done) and strode off up the road, radiating good cheer and optimism.

I put down my gardening tools and thought I had better go indoors.  Perhaps I should investigate what supplies we had on hand in the event of a natural disaster.  Maybe we should invest in some bottled water?  Where would be the safest place to shelter at Shoestring Cottage in the event of an earthquake, anyway?  Not much point spending too much effort and time on the garden, the plants would likely be washed away in a flood or whipped out of the ground by a tornado any day now from the sound of things.  I was glad I hadn't spent any money on rare and unusual trees though.  A nice cup of tea might be in order.  With some cheese and crackers too.  Perhaps some of that delicious chutney.  No reason to be obsessive about watching one's weight and so forth if we are not long for this world.

                                           Suzie must have known these sentiments would be appropriate when she gave me this doorstop as a housewarming present.  Thanks Suzie!

                                            At least I managed to harvest some tomatoes before it was all over too.

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