Garden Grrl: The Battle Of Stalin-Garden


What I thought I looked like in winter. Image via tumblr.

The formative years of my social life were spent in a third-floor flat overlooking a park in the centre of a provincial town. While the flights of stairs up to the living space were a minor inconvenience when drunk, the building itself was within comfortable staggering distance of all my favourite hostelries. I walked to work and even when the sun was shining,  the sounds of happy families kicking footballs and feeding ducks drifting through the open window, I preferred to stay indoors with my flat-mate, mocking passers-by and conducting cost/benefit analyses on purchasing out of date alcohol from the dodgy shopkeeper up the road.

In other words, the changing of the seasons was an abstract concept – one that troubled my already overworked bank account when the winter heating bill arrived in February, but little more. It was only when I moved to the countryside that I realised the sheer, unutterable misery the changing seasons can hurl upon one at will.


What I actually looked like in winter.  Image via

The garden had identified me as an incompetent  interloper the second I walked through the gate, articulating it’s displeasure at my casual approach to horticulture by dumping thousands of tons of dead leaves on my car, the lawn and every other flat surface I was responsible for, every time my back was turned. I had responded in true urbanite fashion: grumpily shifting the ones that were preventing me from participating in daily life and ignoring the rest, assuming they would just blow away or something as the weather cooled for winter.

Oh, those heady days of blissful ignorance.

I had no inkling that autumn was merely a training exercise for a far less forgiving season until I woke up one morning in January and peered out of the bedroom curtain in my now usual cautious manner. The garden, the surrounding fields, and probably more importantly in my capacity as working adult, the road,  had completely disappeared beneath several tons of pure white snow, the kind of thick, impenetrable blanket that brings joy to the eyes of young children and roadside assistance operatives everywhere. It looked like effing Narnia.

I hastened downstairs and ran outside, assuming the view from my bedroom window to be some horrific, CS Lewis inspired nightmare. It wasn’t. I let out a raucous, primal howl as the entire lower half of my pale, heroically naked white legs vanished into the gentle drift that had built up outside the back door, disturbing a snow grenade which had been fiendishly positioned on the top of the doorframe. The howl, which had been approaching a frustration fuelled crescendo, died in my throat, and as the ice bomb cascaded down my back, I slammed the door, raced back upstairs and hid beneath the duvet, wondering if it was too soon to call in the mountain rescue people.

I stayed there all day. The first meaningful shots had been fired in a war I had blindly wandered into, with no weapons, no experience and no winter combat training  in Norway to fall back on.

Little did I know that the old shed at the bottom of the garden contained not only the key to my escape, but the tools that would, over time, hone me into a hardened campaigner, survivalist and worthy opponent of Winter. All I had to do was locate them, sustaining a few minor facial injuries in the process.

Next Time: Garden Grrl: A Fool & Her Axe Head Will Soon Be Parted

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