Sunday, November 27, 2011
Gnarly Tree Company was offering deliveries of free garden mulch, and Spouse and I were in need of mulch, so we filled in a form and requested a delivery, and we waited.
Weeks upon weeks later, we got an early morning phone call to say that the Gnarly men were in the neighbourhood and would be unloading mulch in our garden within the hour.
Lovely, we thought, jumping with unfettered glee; we'd have a decent amount of mulch with which to make our garden grow. I thought of lemons, Spouse of tomatoes.
It was a frosty morning, the first proper day of Winter, and we stood shivering in the gloom at the cusp of our property waiting for the GnarlMobile to appear.
Up the road it motored at last and we indicated with a stiff wave of frostbitten fingers and hands where the men ought to unload the bucket of mulch.
Now, it's a fact that some buckets tend to be bigger than others, but I'll come back to that in a bit.
I was more concerned with the fact that, of the two fellows who turned up, one of them was muttering and exclaiming wildly from the front of the truck. His protests seemed to be centered around the fact that he was unable to operate the machinery, the handbrake, the gears, the levers, the back doors, the buttons or any truck-related gadgetry whatsoever.
He was also, rather alarmingly, the driver.
Spouse and I inched back ever further from the truck while the driver made effort after effort to find the device to tip the mulch container so that the material would spill into our garden. When he found the correct lever, he could not, however, control the bucket sufficiently to propel the mulch out, and it all sat there damply while his assistant stood nearby and wondered what to do. Meanwhile, Spouse and I slowly froze with the chill.
At last the assistant fetched a shovel, clambered into the deepest crevices of the truck and began manually flinging the mulch out and onto the grass. It seemed to be working smoothly; he was a speedy enough fellow with a shovel, and good for him for realising that often, hands can do a job faster than a machine.
Curiously enough, the driver chose that moment of all moments to learn how to fully tip the back of the truck; and he did so, violently, sending much mulch- and the stunned assistant- tumbling heavily downwards.
The assistant, fingers and feet unable to find any sort of grip as the machinery drastically altered angles, found himself one with the mulch pile.
Unhurt, buried up to his waist in miscellaneous wood chippings, he laughed the matter off, albeit a tad hysterically. Spouse and I were thunderstruck, and didn't know at all where to look.
"Where should we look?" I whispered to Spouse, examining my shoes for lack of anything better.
"I don't know," he replied, squinting at a dried icicle leaf beside his own shoe. "But whatever you do, I suggest you do not look at the approximately three thousand gallons of mulch that they've just deposited in our back garden."
"I won't," I nodded. "I'll never look."
That was all weeks ago, and I still haven't.
We're sort of hoping it will just go away; that one morning we'll look out the window and we'll have our garden back; that the Mulchmen were nothing but a dream of the most surreal and chaotic kind.
If all else fails, and Mulch Mountain turns out to be the stuff of reality- well, on the off chance that it snows some day, we will become trained ski instructors and charge people a fortune to come in and use our slope for the afternoon, with the provision, of course, that they'd have to bring their own sleds and skis and whatnot, and with the handy advance warning that there may still be a Mulchman underneath it all, waiting to reach out a gnarly hand and grab their ankles, because, come to think of it, I don't exactly remember seeing him climb back into the truck. I just assumed.
Then again, don't mind me: I was probably out in the cold for too long.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 2:08 PM