Time spent gardening today: approximately three hours.
Of which spent looking for my fork: most of it.
I have a very nice hand fork. I bought it in John Lewis, back when we lived in London and it was actually easier to go to Oxford Street for gardening supplies than it was to attempt to get to a real garden centre without a car. As befits a fork from John Lewis it is, as well as being solid and well made, extremely tasteful. It has a nice wooden handle, now thoroughly ingrained with earth from several years of hard use, and it has nice matt metal prongs (nothing so vulgar as shiny metal). As a result it is effectively invisible as soon as you put it down. And as it’s my one indispensible gardening tool that means that I have spent far more of my time on this earth looking for the damn thing than is really sensible.
Mostly I find it again fairly promptly but today it just vanished about half way through a monster weeding-and-mulching session. I stumbled on for a bit doing the things that I could do without the fork while hoping that it would turn up, which is my usual looking-for-things technique (when you lose belongings with the frequency I do, it’s the only way to stay sane. You don’t always find the thing you’re looking for, but you often do stumble across something else you lost last week). But weeding without a fork just isn’t very effective so I gave up on that and graduated to the classic four stages of searching: looking for the thing in all the likely places, looking for the thing in all the unlikely places, looking for the thing in the frankly impossible places and then looking for the thing in the likely places again but with added swearing. I’d gone up and checked that it hadn’t ended up in the compost heap, wasn’t sitting on the kitchen table or beside the loo, hadn’t inexplicably migrated to the shed and wasn’t, after all, right where I’d been weeding all along. By the time the other half came home I’d reached stage five: staring at the spot where the fork was supposed to be and wondering if I was going mad. I was just explaining to him what the problem was when I spotted the fork on the gravel drive on the other side of the garden from where I’d been weeding. That’s got to be the slugs at work, right?
Anyway, I did get some weeding done despite all this, which would be a good thing except I’ve just realised that by reclaiming a large chunk of a neglected bed from invading grass and restoring it to garden-ness, I haven’t actually managed to reduce the amount of gardening I need to get done: I’ve actually increased it. Time to get a second, more conspicuous, fork. Or a metal detector. Or both.