By Sarah Mayberry
Have you ever dived head first into a task and realised half way through that you’ve possibly bitten off much more than you can chew...and then still stubbornly kept going anyway?
I had this experience very recently - yesterday, in fact. Bear with me for a moment while I paint the picture for you.
We’re in the process of arranging to have our house rendered (not sure if this term is the same north of the equator, but it basically means we’re having mortar smoothed over the bricks of our house so we can paint it). In order to clear the way for the rendering people, I needed to cut down a large and very well established bougainvillea vine that has been making it’s home on the front wall of our house for many years. So, armed with my trusty electric hedge cutter, my manual hedge shears, my pruner, my pliers and my tree lopper, I got stuck in. I cut away at foliage, I dragged at the wire mesh that had been nailed to the eaves to train the vine up the side of the house. Finally, after many stabbings from the vine’s barbs, I got the bulk of the foliage off the house.
I was left with the stump, and I was determined to dig that stump out because I wanted to pave over the garden bed and place a nice neat pot against the side of the house to contain any future greenery. So I dug. I sweated. I clawed at the earth with my gloved hands. I swore. I dug some more. I hacked at the stump with a pruning saw. I lopped off as much as I could with my brand new chainsaw (and yes, it was very scary to use, but that’s a whole other post!). I used the tree lopper to sever thick roots. And still that bloody stump didn’t so much as twitch in the ground. Over forty odds years, that vine has put down roots that go deep and far. No doubt I was but a flea on its back, vaguely annoying but hardly worth noticing in the big scheme of things.
But I was determined not to give up. Absolutely determined. I would not be defeated by this ugly stump. I would not! So I dug and clawed and laboured some more. And as I was muttering to myself and casting aspersions on the bougainvillea’s forebears, a scene from my November Super Romance, All They Need, popped into my head.
In that scene, my heroine, Mel, is transplanting an ill-sited orange tree, moving it from the front yard of her house to a new site at the back. It’s a reasonably mature tree but she’s dug it out of the ground and wrapped the root ball in wet hessian. And then she’s attempted to lift it into the waiting wheelbarrow. And the tree has not so much as twitched, despite her putting all her muscle into it. So she gets ingenious. She gets a big old canvas drop sheet and rolls the tree onto the sheet and drags it down the side of the house and into the back yard. She’s sweating and her arms have almost popped from their sockets by the time she’s reached the back lawn (about a quarter of the way to her goal) but Mel is no shrinking violet. She is determined not to let this tree beat her (hmmm... I wonder where I got this from?). Then my hero, Flynn comes along and offers to bear half her burden. Mel doesn’t want to let him, but he insists, and together they settle the orange tree in its new home. It’s but one of many circumstances when Mel and Flynn come to one another’s rescue, and the first step of many toward Mel realising that she can trust love again after her failed marriage.
I felt very close to Mel as I sweated and swore in the sun yesterday. But - sadly - there was no Flynn to come to my rescue. My hero was at work. So I decided to come to my own rescue. Clearly, a compromise was called for. Maybe I wouldn’t eradicate the flower bed altogether. Maybe I’d rationalise it and plant it with lots of flowering annuals, and I’d cut the stump as low to the ground as possible and place a big glossy pot on top of it - the best of both worlds, right? It felt like a plan.
How about you? Have you ever waded knee deep into a project and realised that you have taken on too much? Are you stubborn, like me? Do you sometimes dig in for far too long and fight well after you should have thrown in the towel? Tell me your tales of challenge and determination, and you’ll be in the running to win a copy of All They Need.