As many of you know, I live in New Zealand, which is one of the countries doing pretty well pandemic-wise. But we are nonetheless encouraged to have masks on hand (actually, on face) when at close quarters with strangers at Level 2 or above, just as we are encouraged to have emergency supplies stashed about the place in case a big earthquake takes out all our infrastructure.
Now, there are, it turns out, some people who get huffy when asked to wear a mask. I am not one of them. I am always happy to don a mask and slip anonymously through the streets of the city. (Or at least, what would be anonymously if there was anyone else round here who dressed like me.) I mean, come on! This is your chance to let your inner superhero out for an airing at last, without people casting doubt on your adulthood. Masks are awesome.
Ever since Eve, gardens and clothing have had a problematic relationship – particularly for women. Before I even made my passionate avowal of regular gardening, I had made a frustrating discovery in this regard. As suitable as my long-skirted dresses are for many a pursuit, gardening is not one of them.
What clued me in? Standing on my hem with muddy gumboots when bending over my work. Frustratingly unavoidable.
And yet, women (and even ladies) have gardened lo these many centuries. The problem, I deem, is the combination of ladylike attire with unladylike gardening. A full sweeping skirt is all very well for a little light flower-gathering on a dry summer’s day with a Sussex trug over one arm, but squatting down in the muddy grass uttering dire threats against a dock root is in an altogether different class of gardening.
Once upon a time there was a woman called Anna Margaretta Brereton, and she had ten children.
One by one, five of her children died. After the loss of her fifth child, she withdrew to her chamber and began to sew. She cut, she basted, she pieced, she appliquéd, she embroidered.
She hand-sewed not only a full, sweeping bedspread for a four-poster bed, but all the drapes and hangings to go with it.