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Little Triffid

My determination that today was going to be a better day, did a runner the moment I got out of bed. All it took was the sight of the dusty dressing table. Thoughts of going downstairs and getting the duster, left me feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. I reasoned it had been a mare of a week at work, and as it was Saturday, I should relax, do something I enjoy, recharge my batteries. My mind found only tumbleweed in the ‘things I enjoy doing’ department. It seemed even my hobbies had been relegated to the list of things I simply couldn't face. Even writing.

So, I found myself drinking tea, staring out of the kitchen window. It was autumn half-term, and four children were scooping up leaves from the pavement and grass verge, then depositing them onto a plastic sled. After dragging the sled onto the grassed triangular junction point, they tipped their haul onto a growing mound of leaves. As the mound grew wider, higher, so too their shrieked excitement. From time to time, they would flump backwards onto the leaves, starfish arms and legs, as if making leaf angels. Then they would get back to the important business of gathering and piling more leaves. The sight of their carefree happiness made me smile. The feeling felt strange on my face, and I realised I hadn’t smiled in quite a while. Uplifted and inspired, I sat down and started writing about the children and their leaves.

Half-term was soon over, the clocks had gone back, and the mountainous pile of leaves was soon forgotten. Christmas came and went. As the months passed, determined winds and bulleting rain, took their toll on the dwindling mound of leaves.

By the spring, a shallow circle of autumnal decay was all that remained.

One morning, as I was putting the rubbish out, I glanced over at the junction point, and noticed that a thick green stem, about two-foot tall with several broad leaves, had sprouted near the centre of the residue of leaves. I wondered if it was a plant or a weed. Whatever it was, I hoped no one came along and broke it, as some are in the habit of doing when saplings have been planted along road verges. As if on cue, a council grass cutter clattered down the road.

Blades down the driver set about mowing the verges. As I went back indoors, I felt sad. I knew the plant wasn’t supposed to be there, but it would have been nice to see what it had grown into. From time to time, I glanced out the kitchen window, hoping to see that whatever was growing had been spared.

Blades back up, I watched as the driver steered the grass cutter across the road and mounted the junction point, before continuing his work. As he reached the edge of the circle of leaves, he stopped. Getting down from his mower, he looked at the out of place plant. Climbing back into his mower seat, he deftly mowed around the circle of leaves. I can’t explain how happy that made me. I went back to my writing about the children and their leaves and added a new paragraph.

The stem grew taller, thicker, sprouted more leaves. People began going over to look at what I had affectionately called, Little Triffid. A couple of months later, out came the council mower again. I watched, held my breath. Then sighed in relief, as she too mowed around Little Triffid. Another paragraph was added to my writing.

Then a flowerhead began to form, and one sunny August morning, Little Triffid opened its face to the world. Neighbours came out and took photos, some with their child standing beside Little Triffid, a glorious sunflower. Passersby stopped, smiled, pointed their mobile phones. Everyone seemed a little happier, lighter, brighter.

All too soon, the vibrancy of yellow, orange and green began fading to brown. The grass cutters came out again, and still mowed around the sunflower. Then as autumn came around once again, birds feasted from the shrivelled sunflower head. And as I finished writing ‘Little Triffid’, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, one of those stripey cream and black seeds, would germinate beneath the mulch of last year's autumn leaves. Time will tell.

In a world that too often shows little regard for nature, that an unknown, out of place plant, had been allowed to grow and become what it was meant to be, gave me hope for us all. 

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