Monday, 10 December 2012

Sally Lunn and Coffee amongst the Truck-Axles

There were days over the last month when I fervently wished I were laying in a hammock blissfully suspended between two leafy trees while sipping a cool cider instead of taping and waxing hundreds of delicate new kiwifruit grafts under a hot sun.

But, while it lasts, I am grateful for my job and for the company of Spike and Wolfie. We make a superb grafting- team - Wolfie chainsaws, Spike carefully puts the grafts in the notch and I wrap black tape round and round the kiwifruit trunk and dab wax on to secure and protect the new wood.

In addition to the above, we laugh a lot and that has to be good for the soul, surely?

Our boss loves us. Well, he hasn't actually ever said that in proper words but I bet he does because he knows he can commute to his other job each day and entrust his entire property to Spike, Wolfie and me. We keep each other in line except for when it is just not humanly possible to do so.

So who is this man we call the boss? Well, his name is Jon K. Tucky and he loves his chicken hot and spicy. Even if his adorable wife was to cook, say a delicious rice risotto and put it in the fridge for him with his name in large letters, I think he would pretend not to see it and re-heat the KFC he purchased three days previously.

And would you like to know about his implement shed? No? Well, let me tell you just one thing. If you find what you are looking for in there you fling yourself prostrate on the dusty floor and cry a loud 'Hallelujah!' You can't help it because you are just so happy.

Our last week of grafting was the very best. Each morning we borrowed Jon K. Tucky's fancy coffee-machine and threw it into the back of Spike's station-wagon along with the other essentials like coffee beans, chilly-bin, cups and sandwiches along with the work equipment like chainsaws, knives, hammers, big pots of grafting-wax and rolls of black tape. We then travelled one hour out to Tauriko to do the whole grafting procedure there on another kiwifruit orchard but under a dappled canopy.

How we managed to fit Wolf's golden retriever in as well is nothing short of miraculous and on one occasion she almost got crushed to death by the wheelbarrow which toppled sideways on top of her because Spike U-turned very abruptly while eating a snow-freeze icecream with one hand and telling a story with the other.

But Spike blamed that episode on Wolf who had groaned, "Bum Bum! I forgot to buy cat-biscuits for the dog".

To all outward appearances I am just one of the blokes in my sloppy overalls and baseball cap and I am treated as such. Wolf told me on day one of our working relationship that when he missed a plant I could forget all the girly-whirly cutie-pie stuff like skipping up to him and politely hauling him back with a sorry to be a bother and all that.

No, I was ordered to just yell big and loud over his chainsaw, "OI, WOLF!!!! GET YOUR BUTT BACK HERE NOW!!!", so now I do.

Such is my dismal lack of femininity at this job, Spike sometimes doesn't even fully close the door of the corrugated outhouse.

"Oh, don't mind me!", I call out in that vague direction but it's obvious I do not even rate on Spike's modesty-radar for I am indeed but one of the blokes with dirt and dust stuck all over my wax-covered boots, hands, arms and face.

I am revolting to behold and untouchable - people shudder in my presence lest I brush past them.

Even after rubbing my wax-sticky hands with dried grass clippings I have to open the outhouse-door with my elbow and wriggle my overalls off my shoulders. When I finally manoeuvre my bottom onto the toilet-seat I do not expect an enormous thud to rock my little corrugated-iron world but that is precisely what happened to me, mid-pee, last Tuesday and I nearly passed out with fright.

Then I heard my workmates' chuckles and it became obvious to me that they had hurled a rock onto the toilet roof . I'm sure to find that hilarious in about a decade's time.

But let me not forget to mention the most joyous moments of that week which consisted of stuffing huge slabs of Sally Lunn from the Te Puke Bakery into our famished faces and washing it down with a perfect coffee from our borrowed coffee-machine which we had plugged into an outside power-supply, surrounded by cob-webs, a mountain of old truck-axles, muddy tractors and bins of beer-bottles.

I'll take the good with the bad!