I have solved a years’ long mystery. And I blame it on the thick walls of this house. It is so quiet here that when there is any noise at all, it’s rather alarming.
Picture this. Late night. Very late night. Dozing, trying to get to sleep with an aching back (mowing, hauling heavy sacks of grass clippings all day) and a brain on a bit of a whirr. I really needed to drop off to sleep. It’s a busy time of year in the garden. Rest is paramount.
And then at 01:06am I was pinged into wakefulness. What is that noise? It sounds like running water? Dear god, did I leave the tap on?
It is the gardener’s nightmare. You can lie there and tell yourself it is just your over-active imagination and tired brain. A few minutes of careful listening and talking yourself out of the hell that it is The Check.
The Check would involve getting up. Finding the torch, finding the specs, staggering into slippers, going all the way through the house to the front door, plunging outside out, creeping all the way down through the garden (cursing the abandoned pest nets that are lying like the worst imagininable booby trap on the path of the potager that were not tidied away at close of play); opening the deer-proof (and sleepy human-proof) gate that is hidden in among the thorny roses, ducking one’s way into the scary spider cellar, and picking one’s way to the very back to the tap.
You can tell I had talked myself out of that horror adventure.
But I knew I wouldn’t sleep. Not with picturing a whole night of water rushing somewhere and emptying the water tank. Flooding, ruined crops, wasted resource, realizing you are turning into your grandmother who was famous for leaving hoses on in a drought…. you know the scenario.
But what was that noise? I compromised by doing everything on The Check that didn’t involve going outside. I got up and opened the shutters to listen out. Goodness there was a din out there. A very bright moon, mating toads and frogs pinging and tocking and going at it hammer and tongs somewhere in the distance, birds, crickets. Who knew?
I’m not often up at 1am listening out for a gush of water somewhere in the garden. But I could hear nothing that sounded watery.
But I could still hear something. So I tried plan B.
Go down to the basement and listen from the inside of the house. A slightly less peril-less adventure.
These old rural farmhouses have interconnecting basement rooms the same footprint as the house above. So I thought I could creep down and avoid the horrors of Outside.
And as I went down the steep cellar steps the answer was sitting waiting for me.
Perched, poised, menacing in its bulk and heft.
Yep. there it was. The gurgling bubbling noise of a deep freezer mimicking the exact same noise of a rushing leaking tap.
So that is what has woken me too early for years. I thought I had programmed the automatic watering system incorrectly and I was waking to the sound of the tap and hose gurgling into life at 6am. It is located in the basement directly below our bedroom.
But no. Just an elderly deep freezer chugging away. But curiously it is located at the far end of the house. A good long walk from the bedroom. But the quirk of having one small vent in our bedroom wall for the fireplace which happens to link to the chimney that travels from basement to roof means it is the perfect conduit for mysteries. The only sound you hear in the deepest quietest part of the night.
I positively twinkled back to bed.
The sensible among you would plan to empty out that deep freeze the next day. Defrost it thoroughly, move it off the cement floor, add a layer of noise reducing board, reposition the freezer, fill it back up, and be pleased to imagine you are going to sleep properly for the first time in years.
But if you are reading this I know you will be chortling merrily at the very thought. Indoor defrosting job? In the middle of the growing season? You have got to be joking. I have absolutely no time for that!
Now, back to the gardening. Alliums. Marvellous plants. Gorgeous Allium ‘spider’. Best display ever.