on being put to bed

November 16, 2011

On being put to bed relates, of course, to things horticultural at this time of the year but this phrase also relates to the youngest member of the family.  And, since he’s been in this house a good bit lately, my mind is focused on his needs as against preparing the allotment for the winter sleep. He needs, so his parents say, a firm routine of supper, bath, quiet time and then bed. Supper and bath are easy and fun. Quiet time consists of flopping around and crooning nursery rhymes like:

Bye Baby Bunting,

Daddy’s gone a hunting,

Gone to get a rabbit skin,

To wrap his baby bunting in.


Hush-a-by baby on the tree top,

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,

And down will fall baby cradle and all.

The narrative is quite gruesome really and thank goodness, it’s all about rhythm and intonation to him and not about his Daddy going off killing and also being hurtled to the ground in the wind! So after this quiet time we do ‘bed’ which is not seen by him in the same light as putting things to bed horticulturally at all. The little one sees it as missing out on what the rest of the family do – he wants to party on. His Uncle Beard had a similar character and expected to party 24/7 but years on he’s the one who falls asleep before the overture or prologue is half way through! So horticulturally, we tidy, mulch, wrap and generally do our best to ensure plants are warm and safe  – Baby listen to me, you know it it makes sense – to get our plants through ‘the night’ of winter so they can thrust up, leaf up, blossom and fruit for spring. Little one, of course, will do that for his next 365 mornings and on and on, even though he makes a fuss.

Tidying up, covering up . . . .

. . . digging over and adding all good stuff and mulching pots of bulbs.

November smells of rue, bitter and musky

Of mould, and fungus, and fog at the blue dusk.

The Church repents, and the trees, scattering their riches,

Stand up in bare bones.

But already the green buds sharpen for the first spring day,

Red embers glow on the twigs of the pyrus japonica,

And clematis awns, those burnished curly wigs,

Feather for the seeds’ flight.

Stark advent songs, the busy fungus of decay –

They are works of darkness that prepare the light,

And soon the candid frost lays bare all secrets. Anne Ridler Winter Poem

4 Responses to “on being put to bed”

  1. Cloudier Says:

    Hahaha Uncle Beard! Smashing misty view from allotment.

  2. julia fogg Says:

    Yes, with a jolly good looking row of ruby chard! Tastes good + looks good.

  3. Kathryn Says:

    I have been astonished, as an adult, to realize the gruesomeness of so many children’s stories and rhymes! Beautifully written.

  4. julia fogg Says:

    May be it was seen as a portent of the hardness of the future – who knows!

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