It’s been a few weeks and the view has changed. The cows are in the fields, the rape is flowering and the gorse is out around Smailholm Tower in the distance.
It’s taken ages. Digging such a small amount each time. In my head I’ve created a beautiful allotment but I’ve recently had shingles and, as is usual for me, I’m suffering from post viral fatigue. Along with the tiredness comes a low mood so I drag myself to dig and then I’m tired almost before I’ve begun. There’s an urgency because I need to get all of the potatoes in.
Here you can see the potato beds finished at last. I was fortunate to have a little help.
The plants in the garden getting ready for the allotment. Those broad beans are nearly ready. I’ve dug a small plot for them and this time I got down on my knees and sifted the earth through my fingers.
It could be a piece of garden art. In reality it’s to stop those Girrick cats who love a nice bit of earth for their toilet!
As I knelt by that bed with the soil in my hands and the lovely smell of earth about me, I remembered a poem incorporated into a play I’m writing.
The play is written around a chorus who become a multiplicity of characters.
The next day this is what had happened to the potatoes. It’s such a horrible feeling when you are all full of hope and then the plants that have only just begun, look as though they may end. All that work! What was happening? I thought about it a bit and wondered if they’d been caught by the frost. It’s been so cold this Spring as well as extremely dry. Frost in May!!! The white in the picture is fleece. I covered them for a few nights. Fingers crossed they recover.
There must be so many ways and maybe not all of them as exhausting as I found mine. I was two weeks in and fully focused in the late afternoon when suddenly I felt the energy drain right out of me.
I knew then that I had to stop for that day and take things carefully. I do have problems with energy conservation but this had taken me by surprise.
Fortunately, tune and harmonies were finished and I had just started recording the learning tracks. My friend Tom Sykes was doing this with me. I had planned for us to do it together but he suggested we try it remotely. This was fine except that it meant I needed to learn a new system and my brain wasn’t letting anything more in.
Some people call this tiredness Chronic Fatigue, others M.E. and yet others think it’s all made up. I don’t like the term M.E. because it sounds too much like an identification of oneself. Really, I don’t know what this tiredness is, I just experience it.
In order to carry on and be able to finish my task by the beginning of March, I had to have some time off and then go slowly. My tiredness was persistent and I could only do small amounts of work at a time. The other difficulty was that I couldn’t sing very well and I kept making mistakes in the recordings.
The process was, I’d record a track and send it to Tom. He would then learn it, record it and send his part back to me.
We managed to complete them last weekend and I spent most of Monday doing some of mine again as my voice was a little better and then mixing them together. It’s the sort of thing that you could go on doing for ever. Eventually I had to tell myself that, although it wasn’t quite right, it was good enough.