Saturday was Groundhog Day, and in Pennsylvania, on Gobblers Knob in Punxsutawney, the worlds most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, the prognosticator of prognosticators, seer of seers, sage of sages, definitely did not see his shadow, predicting an end to winter and an early spring.
With his prediction in mind, and spotting the first signs of buds on the Rowan tree in my garden, it was time to pull on the gardening gloves, prepare the rubbish bags and wield the secateurs and hack back the over-growth in my small garden.
In terms of exercise this was a hell of a work out. I was filling builders rubble bags, which are roughly one metre cubed in size, which is pretty big. My garden is only accessible down a flight of steps and has high walls all round, so it was over the shoulder with the bulging bag, up the flight of steps, through the kitchen out the front door and down a set of stairs to the outside, then 50 yards up my street to a communal refuse bin. 7 times! I was astonished at the amount. I also had to climb into the communal dumpster to trample it all down just so I could get it all in.
But I wasn't alone in the garden. The birds at first took flight as I huffed and puffed away, chopping everything in sight, sawing through branches here and there and generally making a right old mess. However, hunger overpowered them eventually and one by one they returned, pausing between feeds to watch my frenzied activity. One bird in particular, a Robin, stuck around all day singing his song and keeping me company, which was nice.
So, 7 hours hard graft later and the garden is looking rather naked. I've gone from no ground visible to virtually all the borders now visible and completely bare. I discovered the stumps of plants that I'd forgotten were there, having been smothered by more aggressive species. It will be interesting to see if they recover. A few repairs were also needed, mostly to the fencing around the garden. I try, mostly in vain, to keep the neighbouring gangs of cats out, so the final task of the day was to cover the exposed soil with tarpaulin and mesh in the hope that it will prevent them fouling the ground, whilst I plan what to do with all this new space.
For that I'll need to enlist the help of my green-fingered friend and fellow adventurer, Pauline, who originally planted the garden over 10 years ago.
I hope Phil was right as now I'm thoroughly exhausted.