Just cheerfully pottering about . . .

‘So, what were we going to do today?’
‘Oh, I was thinking we might just potter around the garden, what do you think?’

I think I’m getting more used to the retirement lifestyle. Instead of filling our days in a rather frenzied rush to accomplish all the tasks we’d set for ourselves, we’ve retrenched, with a longer schedule pushed further and further ahead, into less frantic busy-ness, more small task-oriented pursuits that you could almost call ‘pottering about.’

True, the ‘pottering’ is not usually just aimless, but directed towards achieving a goal, only the goals are more modest in nature than they used to be. I’ve had about a week, for example, to clean Harry Hymer outside and in, to get ready for a brief trip to the seaside. So I washed the front section the day before yesterday, but rather than tire myself out completely, and especially since I did, literally, kick the bucket, I stopped for a rest and finished the job the next day. Then, because I was happy that the outside was done (well, Harry will never be better than ‘shabby chic’ but who’d want to steal a tired old van if you can nick a bright shiny new one, eh?), because I was satisfied with the outside, I moved on to hoovering the indoors, brushing off the mats, washing the floor, tidying out a few cupboards, organising things, pottering about really, on the preparation front.

The other day we spent a happy hour or so tidying the polytunnel: pulling the grassy weeds growing out of the gravel paths; yanking tall nettles with carefully protected hands and fore-arms; tying up awkward tomatoes; thinning out the salad patch. Just carefree sort of polytunnel pottering. It was a kind of bliss. Today we’re just working along steadily getting the kitchen ready for a breadmaking course for tomorrow. It feels more like pottering about because there’s sufficient time available to us to take it steadily, do it well, rest when we need to, and move onward again. And all will be nicely ready for Saturday’s course. I’ll set the fire later in the afternoon, and sweep and wash the floors the night before we welcome the new breadmakers.

And then, because they were there, I harvested the last of the red currants, took stock of the logan berries and was delighted they’re becoming plump and juicy with the recent rainfall. Wondered whether I should amble down to the bottom of the track to pick the wild raspberries. Felt ambivalent about that, so decided to leave them for the birds. Clearly I’m in a pottering about sort of mind-set.

Awakened from my afternoon snooze to Paul Mingard’s alert about the risks associated with anthropomorphisms of garden animals (pace Beatrix), I went into a little mental potter about the origins of today’s diary title. Was it from her stories, do you think, that we use these words? Was it Mr McGregor pottering about in his garden, chasing Peter Rabbit when the opportunity arose, that gave us this turn of phrase? Looking through google images, I found that actual potters have claimed the idiom (well, obviously, d’oh) for their own. But both Beatrix and Harry Potter fans love to ‘potter about’ too. Ducks are well known and beloved ‘potterers,’ as well. Yet ‘pottering about’ has been in use, in the context we know and love, since at least 1835, from Wiktionary’s quotation list. On the other hand, the phrase is undeniably British — though that’s hardly a surprise, really.

So musing, I put pen to paper (metaphorically, since it’s all keyboard with me), and pottered about happily composing a diary ode to cheerful retirement. Potter on!

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