A worm in the bud

20May13

As the chronic over-commitment continues (symptom-in-chief: an inability to say no and a misplaced belief that I don’t need much sleep anyway), I was flying out of the house an hour or two after dawn on Saturday morning en route to the railway station, and paused only to throw a loving glance at the heavily laden gooseberry to my left. Strangled gasp! What the…? Because on one-third of the bush, where once had been luxuriant foliage was – well, nothing.

Four hours later, in the countryside, I bethought me to ask some advice at a fruit farm, whence we had repaired to pick enough rhubarb to fill a Ryanair baggage allowance. ‘Sawfly,’ she said. ‘Spray it, and fast.’ ‘But, but, but they haven’t eaten the fruit,’ I pleaded. She looked up from the scales, paused for a beat and stared into my soul. ‘Yet.’

Hotfoot to my phone to text the housemates to ask them to spray the gooseberry with washing-up liquid and water, at least until I could get back. I’m only guessing that there was a conference at which predictive texting was cursed, but when I phoned to say yes these are real words and yes, I did indeed mean to say sawfly, washing-up liquid, gooseberry, back on Sunday, I could almost hear the brows clearing.

Once we’d covered the practicalities we could get emotional and start spitting words like pestilence, little bastards and no mercy. When I returned after 36 hours’ absence, two-thirds of the foliage had been stripped and so, forgive me Mother Gaia, I sprayed with non-organic pest killer. Yes I feel bad, but the ground is now covered with small dead grubs. Even worse, the knowledge of that mass killing, evildoer as I am, is lighting my darkness.

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