A month and a half already
It’s time to begin the second episode of my gardener’s life.
I’ve been picking up, cutting, mowing, and so on for a month and a half now, and I’m enjoying it! I like working outdoors, I have pretty colors on my face, I work outdoors, it’s nice.
It’s a change from working behind a computer, and then when you pick up leaves, thoughts fly away, ideas are created. It’s so refreshing.
Well, sometimes it’s not, it’s not every day it’s all rosy… and then the place is unique, the people who work there and the people who live there too.
Riverside garden, do we like the principle?
It’s still a strange place, cut off from the world in a way. Yes, it would be like a mini amusement park with palm trees, shrubs, and lawns maintained (by me hehe), but with lots of old people. Just old people and little houses!
Life is peaceful at Riverside Gardens.
Even the people who work there are old! Franck is the exception (maybe he’s the mascot of the park?), but Sue the manager is 65 years old, Allison the sixty-something, and the salesman who sells the houses doesn’t hide the six dozen he has on the meter! I look like a teenager in this environment !
Here no attraction, just small streets following each other and numbers from 1 to 299 scattered not always in a logical way, the 203 is in front of the 140… (This being go know why, I have a great sense of orientation there, memory of the numbers maybe…?)
Would we want to live there?
Would I like to be in a place like this when I’m old? No, not really… deep in a far suburb, in a plastic house stuck to the neighbor’s, with a holiday campground in the background… ew…
And at the same time… at the same time, each of them has their own house, their own car, but enjoy, activities, the swimming pool, the hall to be with the others. It’s a pre-retirement home. And then, there’s a way to catch, I’ve seen grannies coming home in the morning… they didn’t do it to me! Naughty girls!
Really they have everything there: a mini library, a bowling alley, a mini golf course (good with only one hole… shouldn’t die on the course either…). There’s even a pool table and a ping pong table… what more could you ask for? Aquagym in the morning, bridge tournament every Tuesday evening, movie night on Monday, it’s a real summer camp!
Of course, annual events are more like funerals than weddings, but every age has its celebrations!
In any case, the little old people for the most part seem to like it! And they inspire me!
Collections of garden gnomes
A real passion
It seems our little residents all have a common passion… garden decorating.
So look out, garden gnome, there’s some, there’s some, there’s some, there’s some, there’s some. But the garden gnome becomes a bit obsolete and old-fashioned, when collections of garden meerkats, compete with kangaroos, angels, koalas, and all the animals you can find here or elsewhere.
I am fascinated by the number of stone, ceramic, metal or wood statuettes that adorn the gardens. Everyone has their own little personal decoration, some even install fountains, bird troughs or animated mailboxes. (Special mention to the Koala mailbox and the Metal Airplane mailbox).
You have to imagine that the gardens are… tiny, and that the frozen characters are piled up on tiny bits of land…
Beware, if some scatter them at random, others devote a real passion to it and create a real universe. The pack of meerkats tirelessly taunts the house with 150 real garden gnomes. Still others specialise in one animal, the duck… or try to gather as many inanimate species as possible on four square metres of lawn.
Quite an art! By the way, art has a price, and in the whole “camping”, there’s some for a good bunch of dollars in my opinion. Nine is worth between 20 dollars for the smallest and several hundred dollars for the biggest. Out of curiosity, if one day I had to do a gnome robbery, I looked at the price of the occasion. The garden statues sell for between 5 dollars (it’s not worth too much) and 600 dollars on gumtree… it makes you think 😈…
The walk in Ute through the campsite is in fact a bit like the “Small World” attraction of Disney… good except that the statues don’t move and that the only music is that of the engine…
Ah Franck… we could write a book about him. He’s so unique, it will be hard for you to really imagine him.
I had already said that he had a sloppy look, greasy, medium-long hair, and that he was shaken with tics. You’ll have to add to that the sound effects. Franck makes little noises with his mouth, apparently it helps him to concentrate… well, he’s never really concentrated. And when he calls us, he makes tulululut tulululut!
Franck is like a child, a child who has homework to do, and who is afraid of his mother’s reaction if he doesn’t do it. His mommy is Sue. No matter what he does, he’s afraid he’s gonna get picked on. He’s created a world where Sue was a fire-breathing dragon who would bite him if he made a mistake. While Sue… okay, she has her moods, some mornings the missus gets a little farted. But overall, she’s nice.
Frank’s doing something stupid.
And like all children, when Mom’s not around, he takes advantage of it to do something stupid. Most of the time, he just sneaks a smoke. “Let’s waste some time,” he whispers to Alex and me with a mischievous smile. Anyway, he doesn’t do his homework…
But lately he’s been making me a nice one. Alex is no longer there at this time. Sue’s out. First, 40 minutes before the break, he tells me he’s gonna check something.
The fish trap
I finish painting the fence quietly, when he comes back with a mischievous look on his face. He proudly announces to me that he went by the river and saw lots of fish. Happy, he gets excited and tells me that he is going to build a fish trap. And with that, he disappears into the workshop. He spends his break and another 30 minutes tinkering with his trap.
Imagine him at the bottom of his workshop, tinkering with an old feral cat trap, and putting cat food at the bottom of the fish trap to attract them. I have my doubts about the effectiveness of the maneuver, but let’s move on…
After the 10:00 a.m. break, he asks me happily if I want to go with him to drop off the trap. I feel that it makes him happy, and then I’m not going to wait for him to do nothing. So we leave the residence with the Ute, we park it out of sight near the small forest. He thinks he’s in a spy movie, he sneaks into the undergrowth, looking over his shoulder to make sure we’re not following him. I follow him quietly, he walks a few meters in front of me, he contemplates the small stream below. The water is murky and littered with rubbish here and there. If he catches a fish, I would never eat it.
More and more
He sets his sights on what he thinks is the ideal spot, makes sure to attach the trap to a trunk and throws it into the water. Too happy with his discovery, he watches his trap sink to the bottom of the river. The only problem is that there is no sign of any fish in the stream. No matter how hard I look, look and lose my gaze in the shallow rippling water, not a shred of fin quivering in sight.
The mosquitoes are already biting my calves, and I’m about to go home, but little Franck is on his way, and he’s continuing along the river in the hope of showing me the so-called fish he saw earlier… Lost cause, we go back up to under the highway, where needles and rubbish have replaced the woods. Zero fish.
He leaves disappointed, and promises me we’ll come back in the afternoon to see if we caught anything.
Zero Fish, Zero Gold
We’re going back to work, nice and slow, real slow. And as soon as the lunch break is over, he takes me triumphantly towards the river, convinced that the few hours of waiting will have brought us a beautiful fish.
Missed! When we got to the trap, it’s as empty as when we left it. Frank is disappointed and has multiple facial twitches. He moves the trap slightly and tells me we’ll go check it tomorrow. We will never check, and the trap after two weeks is probably still in the same place and still as empty.
On the way back, Franck kneels down near the stones and watches them from every angle. He spends a good ten minutes there. When he notices that I observe it forbidden, he justifies himself, he looks for… For gold. He won’t find any either…
Yeah, definitely, Frank’s a manager, which is not a manager. He’s lazy, and efficiency is definitely not his cup of tea. We’re not gonna complain, it makes the job easy and quiet. He repeats all the time “Don’t work too hard”, “take your time”, “Piano Piano” (taught by Alex!).
For example, it took us 2 days to reassemble, repaint and install a fence panel. Half a day would have been more than enough…
His Only Stress: Lawn Mowing
The only time Frank is stressed out and stressful is when he’s mowing the lawn.
Ah yes, then Franck is unrecognizable, he’s trembling with anguish. Only three days to mow all the lawns of the campsite. He puts pressure on himself, he becomes hyperactive and stresses us out at the same time.
We have to do it fast and well! Careful, don’t forget the Zipper sniper and the blower to clean up.
It must be said that after my mailbox episode, Franck has absolutely no confidence in my skills with machines of any kind, but then absolutely not ! When it’s time to start, he looks me straight in the eyes and tells me to be careful, that the lawnmower is not a toy, he lectures me for long minutes. All this, under the amused gaze of Alexis. Yes, because what Franck has completely taken out of his mind is that the horrible mower tracks made during our “training” are the result of Alex’s front wheels…
Lawn mowing: my pet peeve
I hate lawn-mowing season. There, I said it!
First of all, yes, Frank is stressed and unpleasant. Second of all, we work alone, isolated from each other. And finally, if mowing, it’s okay, it’s quiet, we sit down, we drive, it’s far from painful… The zipper sniper is hell.
The zipper sniper is a heavy, noisy, vibrating and painful tool !!! After mowing, the zipper sniper must be passed through the narrow parts, corners and edges. What is it? Simply a plastic wire that spins at high speed and cuts the remaining grass. Okay, now you’re thinking, yeah, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
Uh… (Clears throat) If it’s horrible, because this super wire spins like crazy, well, it cuts the grass ok, but it also sends at super high speed all the little pebbles and residues that are lying around !!! And it’s like a mini tennis player sending little stones to your arms, legs, face. With the zipper sniper, no way to forget your safety glasses, otherwise it’s blindness guaranteed !!! Death to the rotofil !
But the why, I really don’t like mowing… It’s the organization, the non-organization of this lawn mowing !!! So I’ll come to the next part… The management of all this.
Organization and management, unknown concepts at Riverside Garden
For mowing, it’s simple, we have three days. I appreciate the objective, which is already a good point! But, uh… We don’t have a plan of all the small lawns that litter the residence. Yes, so it’s a bit of luck to know if we haven’t missed the small plots that are scattered here and there.
And then Franck is stressed and he doesn’t communicate at all! So he rushes off on his lawnmower and we don’t see him until every break. We have no idea where he is, what lawns he’s done… Again, we have to improvise. We waste a considerable amount of time driving around on our little mowers in search of the future lawn to kill!
A damn plan
And it’s very representative of everything else! Here no detailed plan, never, it would be too simple! And the only plan we have is not to scale (It’s funny on the plan, the part to be sprayed with weedkiller seemed much smaller…).
The worst was the time we dug up to put up road signs. The ground is full of cement and stone. Alex, with his pickaxe, hits the ground several times, until a stream of water misses to soak it completely. Oops, we just dug a pipe. Ah well no, we didn’t know there was a pipe here! Well, do we know how to shut off the water supply? No idea, but we can try all the water supply systems on the campsite. No luck, it’s time to call a plumber…
It’s crazy, a plan… Just a plan…
No objective, from pruning to the end of time
Sue seems tough, but she’s really nice deep down, and every morning she gives Frank a to-do list for the day. Only that to-do list is a one-time-only to-do list. No goals for how many houses to do for pruning. So if some days we can do 5, other days when Franck is tired or hungover, we can barely do one!!
Franck started pruning on April 29th… Four months and half of the campsite is still to be done, while spring is already on its way!
Results after a month and a half
Acquisition of skills
It’s undeniable, we learned a lot with Alex! And all this without a lot of stress!
First of all, gardening, I love it and I am no longer afraid of all the insects that can turn around me. When you consider that I could beat Usain Bolt at 100 meters when I saw a wasp… that’s quite a progression!
And now I know how to use tools that I don’t even know the name of in French! Blower, Zipper Sniper (not sure it’s spelled like that), lawnmower, hedge cutter, pruning shears and spray bag, I’m getting better every day!
By the way, you’ll be able to appreciate my progress in hedge trimming…
Yes, well, you can imagine that after a month and a half, there was some minor damage… I wasn’t going to settle for a mailbox!
It must be said that Alex also wanted to get into it, and between the two of us, we’re a pair…
So the damage report:
- A fence that Alex ran into with the lawn mower.
- A metal plate that covered the water inlet, killed by a blow from a lawnmower blade (a dangerous tool, a priori). You know, it was that kind of moment, where before going over the plate, I said to myself, hummm it’s not quite flat, maybe it’s a bad idea. And ssrrrrrhhhhhhherggg, huge noise, mower stops and won’t start again. It’s already too late. Oops. More fear than harm, Alex’s muscular arms to lift the mower, plate removed and the mower is back in operation. Tough machines!
- Two sprinklers, one crushed by Alex’s foot, another cut at the base by my lawnmower.
- A pipe with Alex’s pickaxe through it.
- A staircase railing, broken by Frank.
- Several scratches on the Ute, which hit the other Ute several times (it’s big too… it’s not a twingo, it’s a bit wide ok !).
- A bird trough chipped by Alex’s lawnmower.
And to all this, you can add the lawn burnt by the mowers, the flowers decapitated by the zipper snipper, the hedges that have undergone our training.
After several weeks, the hunt for the cat ended… ah no, they didn’t catch it. They just gave up.
By the way, when we know that the boss took the sound of her automatic toilet deodorant for a wild beast that lived in her basement… I think we can cast doubt on the existence of this famous wild cat…
Alex left 🙁
This month and a half, I spent it with Alex, and it was super fun!
We laughed a lot about our national Frank, we confided in each other, we told each other gossip. The trips together were nice, sometimes silent, sometimes talkative.
I’ve already worked for two weeks without him, and I must admit I miss him. His good mood, his way of putting Franck at ease and our little discussions during our walks in ute.
I’ll see you back in France, Alex !
I go on, with a new Alex
Well paid, not too painful, so I continue this job until I have enough to go to new horizons!
After two weeks, very, very long, alone with Franck, I have a colleague again, Alex! A German girl from my hostel too.
New adventures in perspective…