…similar to the War of the Roses but with only one ground upon which the battle is being staged; the peach tree in the garden.
On one side we have the rightful owner of the garden and heir to the peaches; me, and on the other we have the scavenging pretenders to the throne; the tree rats. Naturally, being a Manchester lass, I consider myself to be on the side of the Lancastrians and have placed the rats (sorry, York) on the side of the Yorkists.
The War began three weeks ago when the peaches reached a size deemed edible by the Yorkists, despite the fact that any self-respecting Squire could see they were plainly unripe. That being so, peach after peach was ‘nibbled’ during the course of night time raids leaving the fruit 90% untouched but completely ruined and the rats with diarrhoea.
Since then, night skirmishes have resulted in the loss of about 5 kilos of fruit and every morning I have the unpleasant and soul-destroying job of removing the injured soldiers from the field and unceremoniously chucking them onto the compost heap. Casualties on the side of the Yorkists have, I’m sorry to admit, been just one soldier hit on the arse with a pebble whilst retreating from a branch in a daring sunset raid.
Then last week the temperature notched itself up to summer time levels and the sun shone from morning til night sending the peaches into furry amber sweetness; not ripe enough for harvesting, but fragrant enough to give off deafening ‘eat me’ signals to the enemy.
On Saturday night I posted sentry from the terrace with a small stash of pebbles and a flash light at the ready but the Yorkists smelled the trap and there was only one sighting. Reduced reactions due to wine consumption resulted in no enemy casualties that night.
On Sunday morning five big, fat, peachy dead soldiers were laid to rest on the compost. Tragic.
Another weekend of blazing sunshine and we now teeter on the brink of the deciding battle of the war.
Every day the peaches are checked for harvest-readiness; pick them too soon and they won’t ripen fully, thus throwing away the prize. Leave them another day and the cover of nightfall will inevitably see increased casualties.
I’ve just checked the tree and we can’t be more than two days away from harvest.
Will the rats face their Battle of Bosworth this week and despite winning so many skirmishes lose the trophy to my jam and chutney store cupboard for the coming year?
It’ll be in dispatches.