My parents-in-law recently got an allotment. I'm not sure if that's a universal concept so here's a wee definition from allotment.org.uk:
"In the UK, allotments are small parcels of land rented to individuals usually for the purpose of growing food crops."
(See also Wikipedia for difference between an allotment and a community garden)
They put themselves on the waiting list about a year ago as they don't really have space for veggies in their own garden. Finally their number came up, and it turned out to be one big mofo of an allotment so there's plenty of room for Gareth and me to join in. We've always wanted pumpkins but don't have the space to give them a proper go – remember the micro pumpkins of 2009? I hope to grow a shitload of kale too.
But first, we must dig. The plot is absolutely choked with weeds. Layer upon tangled layer of weeds, about a foot deep. Like a giant stinky weed trifle. With occasional wooden planks, old potatoes, plastic bags and a 6-foot piece of guttering thrown in for flavour.
I think it's going to be the ultimate metaphor. For lard-busting. For life.
It takes ages. It feels like you're getting nowhere. Just when you finish one bit you turn around and see metres and metres of un-dug space and you want to cry.
Some days you are in love with it. The pissweak November sun warming your brow; the promise of a sandwich at noon.
Some days you hate it with a passion. Surely we'll be done soon? It's only been twenty minutes.
Some days while you're wrestling with a particularly stubborn weed, some smart arse will shove a pile of grass down the back of your jeans.
Some days you can't stop smiling from the simple pleasure of hanging out with loved ones. Some days everyone gets on your nerves ("Can I just make a small suggestion?") and you long to whack them over the head with your garden fork.
But then you remember it needs time. And consistency. And there is pleasure to be had in the process. Just gotta keep on diggin'.