The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

01 May 2015

Fish Meal Summer

Years ago, back in the Age of the Nuts, my sister and I got quite enthusiastic about gardening. By which I mean we drilled holes in the bottom of a big Rubber Maid container and buried five potatoes that had sprouted in the back of the kitchen pantry. We also bought two tomato plants in pots, and tried our hand at little lettuce seeds in a bowl. For fun we had a geranium or two. There are always geraniums. (For us, this was taking gardening to the level of, say, the Chelsea Flower Show.) (I told you – we were garden mad.)

The point of this little story is not that we reveled in a bountiful harvest that summer, but that suddenly everywhere we turned, we were inundated with gardening advice. Every magazine had helpful lists of 10 easy ways to turn your thumbs green. Every novel featured a gardening diva or tree surgeon. Miss Anne, our next door neighbour, could be found trimming our shrubbery at all hours of the day, and would helpfully suggest ways we could improve our landscaping.

For some reason fish meal was a common theme. Even the novel with the gardening diva mentioned fish meal. And because we’re experiencing a surge of organic everything, the ideal source of fish meal is fish bones, from actual fish you’ve cooked and eaten yourself. Preferably ethically-sourced fish, at that.  Fish meal is particularly beneficial to the growing of robust roses. 

I can’t think how many articles I came across that summer that extolled the virtue of fish meal for roses. I began to fret about this, worrying that as I don’t particularly enjoy eating fish I’d have to endure a few miserable meals for the benefit of the roses. Sigh.  Then I’d have to research exactly how to prepare the bones, and the application methods. It became a regular topic of conversation between my sister and me.  Should we try it? What kind of fish?  Would it be ok if we cheated and bought fish meal from a garden centre? Would Miss Anne be able to tell?

This continued a pattern of long standing: we’d learn about something new, or hear about something another person did, and we’d feel some expectation that we should be able to do it, too. Anything from brushing your hair a hundred strokes a day, to baking bread with flour from wheat you grew yourself, to oil sketching your own family portrait. No pressure!

The summer of the fish meal brought an end to that.  One day my sister and I looked at each other and said, “But we don’t even have roses!”  Were we about to plant roses, just so we could eat yucky fish, then grind up the bones for fertilizer? No!  So “But I don’t even have roses!” has become a shield against feeling the need to take on the latest trend or do something I’m not the least interested in just because someone else can or does.

Every now and then that feeling wiggles its way in, though.  One such occasion was last night at work, when I came across this book:  “365 guitars, amps and effects you must play.”

But I don’t even have roses!


  1. I'm laughing out loud, and not even using shorthand to tell you so. The more I think about it, the more amusing it gets...

  2. Haha, I'm so glad! A much better reaction than, "Oh, that Tess... she's an odd one."
    Though that would be ok, too.