What's the most relaxing way to spend the hottest day of the year? Sunbathing by the pool, cool beer and barbeque, stroll in the country? Certainly not raking hay in the village millennium garden.
The call came by email a couple of weeks ago,
‘Volunteers wanted, Sunday morning, 9.30a.m. sharp, bring your own rake and gloves.’
The millennium garden, an old orchard saved from developers when a local mansion was converted into flats, is a small patch of paradise and my shortest route to the shops.
In spring I skip along under clouds of apple blossom, summer and there’s a shady path to follow. Autumn? Apples to scrump of course and smoky bonfires of leaves. In winter there’s a mud free path with fine views over the surrounding fields.
So, duty bound, I joined my mainly grey haired co-workers, to do my bit for the village. As we stood in line, raking and piling up the hay into mounds, the talk was of how the garden, once a scruffy patch of waste land, was improving local biodiversity.
‘So much more wildlife‘, they all agreed, giggling nervously when a very small slow worm was found.
I pondered, should I mention the large snake my neighbour had spotted basking on the path as she walked her kids to school one morning?
‘Best not,’ I decided, no need to frighten off any of the workers, Many hands make light work on such a hot day. From the reported size of the snake, it was probably only a grass snake, though I’d worn my boots just in case.