Early this morning in Pond Cottage I listened to the bird orchestra gently warming up. Then a noise offstage like a creaky old door opening - the bassoonist arriving late? No, no - a frog! One or two croaks, no more. An extremely minimal frog - shy, perhaps? A frog who is still finding his voice!
Pond Cottage in Summer
There hasn't been a frog in the pond for a couple of years now. My cottage cat Minimus ignores the midnight possum's death-metal singing, and the party-hooter honking of the pheasants. But this new noise interested her, and she leapt out of the window to investigate. I hope this frog keeps safe!
Monday 9th December
It's the silly singing season, with pre-Christmas choir concerts and carol singing practices. My whole weekend was taken up thus. But there are rewards - singing friends make the best friends. And Non-Gardening Partner understands my frustration at not being able to do much gardening, Late yesterday, back from a performance in what I rudely call 'My Stuffy Choir', resplendent in my flowing choral finery, he presented me with a trailer-load of horse manure. Yes! My fingers (and nose) twitched in excitement.
Then I remembered there are two such bags which have been lounging in the back of my little car all weekend. Oops. Can one have too many well-rotted, weed-free (cross fingers) bags of horse manure? Not in a large country garden, that's for sure!
My 'Advent with Beethoven' continues. Yesterday I drew out of the Advent Calendar what must be a famous Sonata, because it has a name. Das Lebewohl - Les Adieux, it was, and I really enjoyed the first two movements. Nice! Here was the Beethoven of my dreams, sentimental and sharp-witted, with just enough padding to fit comfortably. Alas, the last movement galloped along like a beer-drinking dance, and the magical moment was lost. I blame 'Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall' for irrevocably ruining the time signature of 6-8 (that's 6 over 8).
More Noises Off...
Histeria the Tabby
Continuing the 'noises off' theme, the starlings nesting in the guttering outside are screeching in alarm (Histeria the tabby cat must be prowling the top of the pergola). There is rhythmic percussive crunching of dried food on the feeding station. Guess who? It's fat Tiger, mopping up the last bits of someone else's breakfast.
I have two sonatas to play today - nos 7 and 9. And later this morning my flautist is arriving for chamber music, to christen the 'rebirth' of my piano. Goody!
Oh joy - finally, a Beethoven sonata (no 7) with an Adagio to die for, in a manner of speaking. And a nicely balanced Rondo with an ending that doesn't go on and on wasting printer's ink. I'd like to learn this sonata properly.
After chamber music I took my friend around the garden. Now this is a very lovely thing to do - a couple of bellbirds followed us around, high in the trees, while Rusty the dog plodded proudly out in front. My friend greeted the littlest, humblest flowers (like the blue geraniums), and we both marvelled at the Phormiums in flower. Then she impressed me - she knew the botanical name for the poached egg flowers (Limnanthes davidii). Wow!
Chevy Chase Rambling Rose
The not-so-lovely thing is that I heard myself saying 'Oh, you should have been here a couple of weeks ago. The roses were wonderful...' It's a rule of garden guiding. Never, ever reminisce about the wonders of last week/month/year. And never make excuses (well, of course I haven't weeded this bit properly yet), or apologise (oh, sorry about the black spot on the roses). I know all this!
The roses are still wonderful (especially the pretty pink ones). But as a result of my wander I see I have much rose dead-heading to do (sorry Othello), lots of general trimming, and more of the water race edge banks to weed. And one embarrassingly large dock weed to uproot from behind the stables. Right. Sunblock and gardening pants are on. C'mon, Rusty the dog, let's go gardening...
A Couple of Lazy Hours Later...
I wandered around rather indecisively looking for my bucket of hand tools, with no luck. So I couldn't do any weeding - what a shame. Anyway, I found some spare secateurs and did some serious dead-heading of the house roses. Then I fired up the bonfire and added the rose prunings to it.
Tuesday 10th December
Groovy! My frog has gained in confidence, croaking continuously outside the cottage at 5am, an overture to the twittering bird chorus. It's a much nicer way to be woken up than by a crowing rooster or a howling cat fight. This morning I have to catch up my Beethovens, as well as find my bucket full of newly purchased garden tools. Aargh! Where are my new pink-handled diggers and scrapers, and the dressmaking scissors? Oops.
I found everything. I've burnt five barrowfuls of rubbish, some from the Hump, whose path is now trimmed. There's now just one more huge pine tree to clear up, crashed down in the Welcome Garden and slightly hidden from view. I planted annuals and pelargoniums behind the Stables, then went in the water race and weeded. And thought long and hard about my summer garden, full of roses.
Not such a good review for Beethoven's Sonata no. 9, I'm afraid. It's OK to be privately obsessed with the dominant seventh chord, but insisting that it be thumped over and over again in public is just tedious. Sensitive pianist-gardeners prefer the understatement, the subtle nuance, the gentlest hint of instability...