Villagers had tried to tell Villager G she ought to hand over her veggieplot to me, because it was silly that she was still working her hands to the bone at her age, and I was young and didn’t have any land and it was near my house.
Villager G however, continued until that faithful day when I found her on her back in a bed of salad in the pouring rain. Villagers suggested that I had saved her life because I had actually heard her screams for help.
Shortly afterwards she went into the old people’s home, where, to everyone’s surprise she didn’t wilt as everyone had predicted, but relaxed and had her nails painted by the nurses until eventually her hard as nails body gave in and she died.
Her two daughters, not living here but visiting, asked me if I wanted to take over the veggieplot.
I was ecstatic and said yes.
I’m not an organised veggieplotter, I’m more of a pantser, I go with the flow. There is something about neat rows and order, but it doesn’t go well with me and I love experimenting. Villager G was all about rows and neat and no weeds. She dominated nature with an iron will, her hoe and plenty of pesticide and herbicide.
I opted for a kinder approach and let nature play a bit.
Ok I let it run out of control.
But it was fun, to see what grew where when you just left nature to it, what seeds preferred what spots. The plot and I became great friends. And there were weeds and that was fine by me.
The two daughters didn’t agree with my thoughts and theories and were horrified every time they came to visit. Wails about what the rest of the village would think of it now it looked like this, how their mother would turn in her grave if she saw it.
Villager J thought it all hilarious and mimicked them every time they were gone.
This went on for three years. They turned up, threatened with strimmers and tractors, I promised to bring some order into the veggieplot. I really didn’t want to lose it.
But they made me feel bad. Whatever I did, I couldn’t do anything right, that I wasn’t a true veggieplotter. It began to grate on me. Every time they turned up to check on the house, every few months, I began to get nervous.
But then someone told me the house would be let out. This wasn’t just a surprise, but a worry also. We weren’t used to having neighbours anymore since Villager G left and now we’d have someone living opposite us.
It did cross my mind, what about the veggieplot, but I thought there would be no way they’d take it off me, it wasn’t attached to the house.
I’d helped looking after Villager G. I was one of the first at the funeral home when her coffin arrived. They wouldn’t do that to me.
When the youngest daughter turned up and told me she needed to talk to me, I knew what was up. She told me the new tenant wanted a piece of land with the house, so I needed to give it up. I did plead. But they didn’t understand that I’d become great friends with this piece of land who I knew inside out.
The new tenant turned out to be, thankfully, ok. He mentioned that the plot was big enough for two, but I had already said my goodbyes and didn’t know how to explain that it would feel like sharing a lover.
I had another plot at the bottom of the village which another villager had lend me, I’d just go down there a bit more.
It hurt when I saw the entire plot dug over by tractor. And slowly the new tenant started to work and transform it, until one day I could walk past it without feeling an achy type of missing. I still saw my old seeds appear, orange flowers I’d let loose. Purple borage. As if the plot was waving at me.
But he didn’t have time to look after it and it slowly started to overgrow and I couldn’t help feeling satisfied that Villager G’s daughters perhaps would regret having handed it to him. Because it certainly looked far worse now.
And one day I noticed the car of one of the daughters outside. The badly hipped daughter was out there passive aggresively cutting away the weeds, while my neighbour was still asleep.
I first of all felt a sense of satisfaction, and then I felt deeply sorry for my neighbour.
When the daughter was gone and I saw him outside, I spoke to him and he said he had felt ever so embarrassed, and how bad the daughter had made him feel, saying her mother would turn in her grave.
I told him it wasn’t him, that they had always done this with me too. That it all needed to be rigid or nothing.
The daughters haven’t turned up for a while now.
The veggieplot is still a mess to this day.
It does pretty much what it wants to do and I’d like to think it’s because it enjoys its new-found freedom I gave it.