Slightly Bemused writes:

They truly are a thorny problem. And one I let get away from me. The end of my back garden became shorter by about 10 feet while I was away as the brambles decided I was not living in the house and were making a mad run for occupancy. Maybe they were jealous of the new loo

But thanks to Woodies I have been able to hold the front, although I did nothing once fruit arrived. There are little birds living there, and the fruit was important. I saw the last of it a week ago. And a lovely man who comes in about 3-4 times a year and makes sure my garden does not completely take over my home was in.

He regained me about 4 feet of my garden. He will be back in spring, and we can decide how much more to recover, and how much to leave for the robins and the bluetits, and maybe even the goldtit if he is still about. The blackbirds were upset, but they live higher in the trees. I never figured out where the crows nest – they do fly-bys and come down for food, but keep their sanctuary a secret.

I know I talk about how small my town is. But I have known this guy for several years.Yet last night something clicked. He knows my Dad well, and perhaps more importantly used take the bus regularly with my youngest brother. Not just a small town, but a small county. First names are all well and good, but adding the surname, while not important on the one-to-one, adds in layers that make you part of your town.

A little like brambles. Before he knew who I am and our connection, he was explaining how brambles grow. They put out tendrils, and once away from the original, the end of the tendril puts down roots, and a whole new briar is born.

I guess we are all like that a little, with each of us the next tendril. Some of us are thorny, but all of us are reaching into our communities, creating and continuing the connections. And we occasionally meet a tendril from a different family, often without knowing it. Another root out into the stuff that keeps us together, keeps us whole.

I know I mentioned before that I lost family. Yesterday (8th) was the anniversary of my Mum’s passing. They are buried together in a family grave in our local graveyard, which is right beside our local supermarket. The graveyard is closed, and in any case a wall from the first abbey constructed in the town is dangerous. But it has a low wall around it, and from there I can see the grave only a few metres in. Chat with my Mum, and my brothers who have gone ahead of me.

And many times there are others along that wall, all properly socially distanced, but all doing the same thing. So we chat, not just with our departed loved ones, but with each other. Sometimes we just nod at each other, and quietly rest our heads on our arms.

Looking today at the recovered ground of my garden I realised that my mother is one of those tendrils, as are my brothers. Those of us along the wall are the next set of tendrils, reaching out and binding our community together, even when we do not know it. Brambles grow quickly, communities slowly. But the more deeply they burrow, the more they grow together. And even when some are cut back, the rest remember them.

And sometimes it is hard to know the you from your town. I for one have no complaints. And little things like the chat with my friend doing the gardening reminds me of that, and how far the tendrils reach.

Slighty Bemused‘s column appears here every Wednesday.

Pic by Slightly

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29 thoughts on “Briars And Brambles

      1. Charger Salmons

        Thank you for your civilized reply Slighters old chap. I thought it might have been there for something because no-one leaves an empty green eggbox lying around like those continental types who put plastic bottles of water on their lawn for whatever unfathomable reason.
        I enjoyed your piece of whimsy and look forward to reading more.

  1. Bebe

    So love your posts Slightly Bemused … that is beautiful and brought a good few tears ! Remembering my mum who went to her forever home last year and who is so wrapped in my heart that we chat regularly – even when I’m doing the most ordinary of things like picking up the post, always when I see a robin redbreast and occasionally when I find those pristine feathers. I tell the younger members of my family that she’s all around us. It gives us a sense of belonging and safety. Missing those we lost is tough and I’m not even sure it gets easier, but its consoling to know that others feel the presence of their loved ones just as we do.

    Thank you for your beautiful thought-provoking piece.
    Love to you and yours.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Brilliant. I saw that it’s every wednesday and was wondering how i missed them up to now. Something to look forward to.

          1. millie bobby brownie

            It really is. I think after this year there are (myself included) a number of readers who would appreciate some lighter, less contentious posts here.

            This column is a wonderful antidote to the griping and one-upmanship.

        1. Slightly Bemused

          Hi Giggidy. I was honoured when asked to do this. If you want to read earlier posts (I think I have 4 or 5 now), look along the left (assuming you are on PC) and click my nick under Authors. If you are on the app, just do a search. I do hope you enjoy them.

          1. Slightly Bemused

            Ok, on the right. I can never tell the difference. It depends on which hand I point with. So never ask directions from me :-)
            I have back issues, and go to a chiropractor who is a genius about making me able to move again. He knows my issue. When he wants me to turn on my right or left side he kindly taps me on the side he means even as he says it. I am not sure what it is called, a little like dyslexia but for right/left understanding. Apparently his wife, a doctor, has the same issue. He understands.

  2. Happy

    I enjoyed that a lot.

    Lots of briars expanding all over the country. I put it down to part time farming and the culling of goats during foot and mouth. It’s good for the little birdies and hedgehogs though.

  3. Junkface

    A very nice, thought provoking piece of writing. Made me think of my grandmother who we lost this time last year.

  4. Daisy Chainsaw

    Birds know when they have a sanctuary like your garden, somewhere safe to nest and feed. Leaving the briar til this time of year, well outside nesting season, will ensure the birds have a sanctuary next year too.

  5. Tinytim

    For the love of the metric system.
    I’m in my 40’s and this country adopted it before I was born.
    Try it; you may find base 10 rolls off the tongue nicely.

    1. Slightly Bemused

      Don’t worry, Tinytim. I am perfectly conversant with the metric system. I started before that was adopted here (my original post office savings book was still in pounds, shillings and pence). The first project I ever remember doing in school was just before we joined the EEC. It was on The Netherlands, and we three working on it did a piece on how they used the metric system. And I fully agree, it is much more sensible.

      In later years I remember doing an explanatory article for US colleagues coming for the first time to a country using the metric system. That was fun!

      The reason I use feet here, though, is down to the fence panels. For whatever reason, they are still sold as 6 foot stretches, or were in the late 70s when this house was built, and it was by that metric I judged how much of my garden was embrambled. My friend cut it back to just one fence panel. It will take a miracle to separate the brambles from that panel, but I am happy to leave 6 feet for the birds and the bees.

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