Have you found Esther and the Time Machine? Roughly a sequel to Esther in the Garden. A nod to science fiction. Mostly twaddle. Hopefully fun.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014


We in England have a reputation for talking excessively about the weather. In part this is because we are much afflicted by false hope. We take our holidays in August - the rainiest of the summer months. We hope for snow at Christmas - when it hardly ever snows in December. So we pass our time happily complaining.

On the other hand, we can go through a lot of weather in a day. We've grown up expecting a mixture of sunshine and showers so in the era when people bothered with umbrellas (it's out of fashion and too windy now) whether to take one or not would be a reasonable question to raise before going out.

We have a new topic now - that the weather doesn't change. It has decided to rain and the rain won't stop. There are odd breathers but they don't last long and the change from wet to dry and dry to wet can be dramatic and abrupt.

Last night I was woken by a huge crack of thunder. After that - silence. No rain; silence. I lay in bed listening for more, adrenaline surging because I'd come out of sleep too fast. Nothing. Then, in the distance, was a roar. The roar grew louder and louder. It came from the west and it was coming fast! I heard it come across the garden. I heard it hit the house. The house shook. Rain. It wasn't an intensifying drizzle. Nor was it a sudden heavy shower. This rain was Aggressive. Aggressive rain and it was coming - at us - pounding towards us like cavalry in battle line.

We went into the country on Saturday. It smelled horrid. Not everywhere but lots-of-where. Like old urine. Clearly it wasn't old urine. Only a giant could pee that profusely. But maybe it was? (A giant.)

Urine can be useful in a garden. It can work as accelerator in a compost heap. Male urine can be used to frighten away foxes and badgers. But on a lawn urine makes the grass die - you can see 'burn' marks on lawns where dogs have peed in patches. (Enjoying this post?)

Our weather giant is peeing too much in the fields. He's flooding them. (I'm assuming he's male. I don't think I'm being sexist in this - it's just that outdoor peeing is much easier for men than for women. A woman would have had to save it up in a watering can and I don't think watering cans water with this much force.)

Our giant is washing the goodness out of the ground and into the rivers. He's turning fields into lakes. It's pretty to see swans swimming where crops should be - but what about the worms? What about all the other organisms that contribute to the fertility of the soil?

I don't know. I admit it. I don't know. But when I smell that smell - the smell that is genuinely like a not very well-kept lavatory . . . the only way I can account for it is that things are dying; roots, worms and all.

I've been worrying my bulbs will be rotting in the wet. They aren't. Their green spikes are already quite tall. Even the hosta I thought was dead is sending up little twiddly bits of green. They may come to nothing but it shows there's life in it still. So it's not for my garden that I ask this, it's for the fields. If any giants are reading my blog (maybe because they've received posts by email ever since they signed up at the top of the page) I would like to ask them, respectfully, if they can go and pee elsewhere. (Like in a reservoir.)


Mark Willis said...

Very amusingly written, Esther! I was watching some stuff on the TV today about some more "proactive" flood defences, to try to deliberately flood upland areas in order to save lowland areas. I wonder if it will ever happen, and if so whether it will really work.

theblooominggarden.wordpress.com said...

That is the first post I have ever read on a gardening blog or any other blog about urine. I live in the country but I can't smell any urine. Do you really think dead worms smell of urine? Some of your imagery is quite disturbing but I must say startlingly original. Anyway, you made me laugh and on a miserable January afternoon that is very welcome.

Joanne Noragon said...

I know the smell, but associated it more with sewers than urine. Well, I see the connection. And even here the bulbs seem thriving on the bizarre weather. Sprouting like spring is tomorrow, not three months from now.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hi Mark. I would guess building enough water catching structures on the tops of hills would be prohibitively expensive. (As I write this the rain has started lashing against our windows again. Extraordinary!

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Bloominggarden. I'm surprised you haven't come across urine in gardening. Try Googling it - there are masses of entries under all sorts of searches . . . urine in compost, urine as compost accelerator, urine in gardening. As for using it to deter foxes and badgers - there are loads of entries for foxes and some for badgers.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Joanne. I think this is a smell of rotting rather than of escaped sewage. I did wonder whether such a lot of rain is affecting septic tanks but I think they the smell would be much worse. As it's not uniform I'd guess too that it's emanating from plants/soil or whatever specific to particular areas. This would be a reason why not everyone is noticing it. Another would be that because we live near the sea we are used to exceptionally clean, air. It may be the contrast which makes me more susceptible to noticing the smell inland. Whatever is causing the smell - and we can set that aside completely if we like - there must be a lot of damage being done while so much land is under water.

Barbee' said...

Esther, I know exactly the odor you are noticing. I have noticed it here in Kentucky, U.S.A. during times of seemingly unending rain, usually in spring or early summer. It seemed everything was souring or rotting, yet the odor is not that of "rot". Maybe the earth was sick of rotting worms. I know I was sick of them all over my driveway. At any rate I loved your choice of words here: "Not everywhere but lots-of-where." Good post!

Anna said...

I've not been in to the country recently Esther but parts of my garden certainly smell musty, almost as if its been shut away for months on end with a damp flannel left inside. I was once given a book entitled 'Liquid Gold' as a present from a friend on the subject of using urine in the garden. I wonder why it never became a best seller and why I've still not read it cover to cover. Hope that worms can swim and come through these dire deluges still wiggling.

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Barbee. I'm so pleased you know the kind of smell I'm meaning - though it's a bit mean to be glad because it's not a nice smell to smell. Usually, when in the countryside, one wants to breathe deeply - but not everywhere at present.

Hello Anna. I'm not surprised you didn't get to the end of your book! Even a book about conventional composting would have to be exceptionally well written to become a 'gripping read'. I don't think I've finished with the subject yet - but I hope an odd post here and there is more palatable than chapter after chapter. (Though that probably wasn't the best choice of word!)

Alistair said...

urin an awfy funny mood Esther, but I like it!

Esther Montgomery said...

Very droll, Alistair!
Hope you are not being rained out. I think of you often because this winter may not be giving you the best of introductions to life in England. Mind, I have family who have moved from the Black Isle to Shetland - and Lerwick isn't exactly having a gentle winter either! Amy kind of move can be a challenge. Am sure you are rising to yours - and look forward to learning how your garden progresses over the coming year. Role on spring!

personaleden said...

You got me chuckling, Esther, but let me tell you that we have long since discovered the advantages of urine especially in fighting off uninvited deer that have developed a liking for my precious roses. Hubby visits the compost heap several times a day...a bit difficult for me as it's so high up. If you fancy a good laugh you may want to read my post Molesting William ;) Glad to have stumbled upon your blog!

Esther Montgomery said...

Hello Annette. Glad you have found the urine-against-deer ploy works. Do you have a link for your Molesting William post? I've looked at your blog but can't find a way to navigate it.

Still Woods Farmhouse said...

Hi Esther! I found you through a comment you left on another blog. Loved your post on the weather and urine! I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we have had an unusual few days. We are expecting sleet and SNOW today! Yes, I said I live in the MS Gulf Coast. Rare for us to get snow, but we get lots of rain with thunder and lightening. Stop by for a visit...I am sharing an appetizer for a Superbowl Party. I am also a new follower so look forward to reading more from your corner of the world!
Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse

Julia said...

Me encantan las fotografías, son geniales. Ha estado un regalo el visitar tu bloc, te invito visitar el mio y si te gusta espero que te hagas seguidora.

Mag said...

Great perspective, Esther. Alarming weather indeed. Hope you're surviving it down there.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Sounds foul, though I like the idea of a giantess saving her pee in a watering can and inflicting it on us. Not quite sure what that says about me.Am going to sign up again as apparently I have been turfed off, thought you hadn't posted for ages, sorry!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I shouldn't have read this .Every time it rains , I'm going to be haunted by visions of trying to pee in a watering can ..
Mind you , living as we do in a town , at least we;ve not been plagued by urine smells . In fact , this much rain has washed down some of the less salubrious bits quite effectively ....... into the open country beyond, perhaps !