There are times when all the Slowness in the world, all the Zen, all the good intentions, just don't cut it.
Remember my smug, look-what-I've-done-aren't-I-clever blog post of just a month ago? The one where I gloated about the stone terrace? Yes, well, my mother was right. Pride comes before - erm - problems. Aka the most frustrating, time consuming, back breaking and frankly tedious bit of work we've done so far. I think it's called karma.
The task was (is) to turn the mudslide outside the entrance to L'Atelier into a small terrace which doubles as a safe and attractive entrance into part of our new guest accommodation. The work was planned to coincide with our builders' summer break and we reckoned it would take us the best part of July, leaving August free to lay the stone on the sunny 'morning' terrace at the back of the house. Plans were drawn, materials ordered and delivered, tools made ready to dig it out and tame the slope and camber that always made me feel as though I were negotiating the house of horrors at the fair. It should have been a simple (well, okay, not too difficult) matter. So why did I get a kind of sinking feeling every time we contemplated it? Why did I feel that there was something about that whole bit of the garden that was somehow energetically unpleasant - just plain wrong?
We hacked and we pickaxed our way through some 25 centimetres of hardcore and solid clay. We levelled and we compacted and we measured and we redesigned: Plan 96A changed into Plan 98B as we found that a rainwater channel had been particularly badly concreted in, and grinding back the concrete merely resulted in destroying the channel meaning that a rapid creative rethink was required. We threw around ideas for constructing a small retaining wall where there was a difference in level between the terrace and the unhacked out ground. None seemed quite right, for no good reason. We pronounced ourselves stuck. I continued to feel uneasy.
This morning, after a day off lunching with new friends yesterday, we went back to work with trepidation to try out Plan 99C. Railway sleepers were sought, and possibly found. Yeeesss ... but. Sinking feeling still there. Spade and pickaxe in hand, I went off to explore the unhacked out ground above the terrace. And found the root of my dis-ease. The ground is higher there not because of a natural slope, but because it's a tip: it's an area of around 8 square metres, 40 centimetres deep (more in places), completely made up of discarded aggregate, sand, and cement. It's clearly been left/dumped there during building works over the years, and allowed to grass (well, weed) over. A few centimetres down it has, unsurprisingly, half turned itself into concrete. Words fail me. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
And it has to go. Not so much because of what it looks like, and not just because it's polluting, but because of what it feels like; because of the energy it harbours, which is negative, hard, offensive, insidious. You are unworthy, it says to the land, therefore I shall dump my merde on you. So this afternoon, in appropriately dank, miserable weather, we began the process of hacking it out, shovelling it into wheelbarrows and then into the trailer, and taking it away. We calculate that it amounts to around 8 tonnes.
I'm going out now. I may be some time.