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Rab carves out a new path for himself – even if it’s just in the garden

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I’ve been seeking a new path in life. I’ll go one step further: I have made a new path in life.

Yep, it’s a new first for your Uncle Rab. I’ve created a wee path round the back of the garden pond. Feel quite proud of it: a man moulding his environment, master of all that he walks upon.

Tell you an odd thing, though: I’m not naturally inclined to tinker with my environment. I take a Taoist attitude to life, not interfering, letting it run its natural course. And I go with that flow. It’s a disastrous approach to life that would have seen us all still sitting about in caves, eating berry surprise – again! – and freezing our socks off because we hadn’t interfered with sticks enough to make fire. Come to that, we wouldn’t even have had socks to freeze off.

So, I suppose humans must interfere. Apart from anything else, Ma Nature is her own worst enemy. Lately, I’ve been pruning small trees and other plants trying to take over their neighbours’ territory, denying them light and sustenance.

Even when I prune plants for more aesthetic reasons, so that the dopes can grow better, I tell them I’m just giving them a haircut and not to get their knickers a twist. When I dig a new patch of soil, uprooting the old grass, I have a pang of anxiety about whether I’m doing the right thing.

Maybe I should leave well alone? Maybe insects liked the old system? I’ll be quite candid with you here and say I don’t give a damn what insects think. However, I take into account that plants and birds need the insects to thrive. But garden birds seem to like the upturned soil, and maybe my new plants will attract a better quality of insect anyway.

I suppose the main source of my discomfort with major garden tasks is the knowledge that I so often make a mess of things. I clean things and they get dirtier. I repair things and they get more broken. And the bigger the project the bigger the capacity for disaster.

But the path wasn’t that big a project. The area behind the pond is dense with foliage, but I didn’t have to uproot any bushes or plants. I just needed to turn over the wild grass, flatten the soil and put down tree bark chips, which are a bit sterile perhaps but don’t look too bad or unnatural.

Oddly enough, the path doesn’t really have much function. Arguably, you can walk on it, but it doesn’t take you anywhere that going round the front of the pond (which already has a proper path on it) doesn’t already do.

But I like just stoating along it because I enjoy being immersed in the surrounding foliage. Well, you have your hobbies, I have mine: foliage immersion. I believe this is called “forest bathing” now and is a New Age therapy.

The path was also the pilot for possibly creating a wider network of walkways up in the more wooded part of the garden. But, for the time being, I’ve decided against this: might make the arboreal lands too formal. Besides, it’s probably interfering a bit too much. In among the boughs, I still bow to the Tao.

More in this series:

Forget Scandi noir and Game of Thrones – it’s Springwatch all the way for Rab

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