Grass, ash, rain

I’m late into cutting the bank this year, and the weather’s against me. Do not be deluded by the apparently beautiful September weather in this shot. Every twenty minutes, another icy shower rolls in and soaks all the grass.

I’ve never seen the bank so wet. The layer of moss below the grass is saturated and slippery. It was only when I had fallen flat on my face for the third time – much like diving into a cold sponge – that I realised that a new pair of boots with some grip was probably needed…

Exhibit A is a steel-capped wellington boot: not only a fashionable item, but an absolutely essential one for any Scottish gardener. There is only a single boot in the picture because I was wearing the other – it says much for my camera that it is able to cope with a photographer balancing on one leg on a slippery slope.

There are two separate grass smothers on the go this year. The soaked grass smoulders very slowly – effectively it is boiled into a stew, and then gradually dried out before charring into ash. If I am to have any hope of burning as fast as I cut, the smothers need to be taken apart every 24 hours and reinvigorated with a hot wood fire at the base.

An eviscerated smother resembles the lava fields of Etna. Ash spreads, and then is ground into a black paste by the rain…..Never mind, the bank is almost finished – and the celebratory half bottle of champagne awaits. Meanwhile, the next rain shower blows in.


12 thoughts on “Grass, ash, rain

  1. Burning wet grass in the rain does sound a bit challenging– I think you should have two half bottles. But why take off a boot rather than photograph both boots in situ? And is that interesting gizmo the grass cutter? I had this image of you with a scythe. The blue sky photo is lovely, and I quite admire the wooden rake.

    • Gizmo (!?) That’s my Stihl brushcutter, and I cherish it more than you could know, lingering over its carburettor late into the night. It’s just a petrol-powered scythe, so you aren’t far wrong. Don’t you find it easier to photograph a boot at a distance? I certainly do, as with most forms of wildlife.

  2. Burning wet grass? Don’t you layer it in your compost or do you have too much of it? Couldn’t you borrow a few sheep to do the work for you, that would be much easier!

    • I did try composting it once, but it was not a success – the long stalks did not break down happily. Sheep are good, but I would have to tether them. Goats would be better still, but they eat things, like washing hung out to dry. Cows are not a good idea. If they dance on your lawn it takes a long time to put it right. I’ll stick to burning, I think.

  3. The grip on my wellies has gone and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve nearly fallen on my backside on the way back from the allotment. The paths are all really slippery. Burning wet grass does seem like quite a task. I guess if it’s always raining! I’m no fan of mowing grass, even our tiny lawns went when we moved here, so I’m with Pauline on the purchase of a couple of sheep.

    • Ah, burning wet grass is quite a useful skill, and no different from being a charcoal burner really. I may complain, but honestly I don’t fancy looking after sheep much.

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