Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mosquito Netting

Fifteen years ago I went to a thirtieth birthday party held in an old church hall. An abundance of green mosquito netting hung below the ceiling in arabesques piled high with balloons. A jukebox blared eighties music, heavy on The Police and U2; and at three o’clock in the morning, a group of us stood on the lawn and howled at the moon.

At the centre of the howling group was the birthday boy, a gentle bewildered and very unhappy man; safe inside, away from the lunatics, stood his confused and defensive wife. As the party drew to a close, the mosquito netting was pulled down and the balloons all popped; then the netting was bundled into a large green plastic garbage bag.

A couple of years later, the couple split; and soon after that, I moved in with the man who is sad and lonely no more. We have lived in half a dozen different houses together, and the mosquito netting has moved with us as we wait for a good use for it.

At last this week I stood and unpicked the staples which so long ago had held the netting in elegant swathes, and remembered the party, and the time of life when we were all so young and muddled and lonely. Then I drove some stakes into our planter boxes and draped netting over them, so the cabbage moths can no longer lay their eggs on our baby brassicas.

It feels a good use for the netting, falling in soft arabesques over veggies now. Instead of helium balloons, butterflies and cabbage moths float above it; and in place of eighties music, the voices of children drift through the air. We may not howl at the moon these days, but our kids always shout when they see it.

Just a glance at the netting is enough to remind me that this life of children and constant visitors is a daily party, as we welcome guests, play games, tell jokes, and share food and wine and stories. And even as I watch and remember, a little girl runs past in dress ups: red velvet, sparkly sandals, and red floppy hat; and her hair flies behind her like streamers.


  1. A beautiful story of the 3 R's: re-use, recyle, and redemption.

  2. Hi Stay Well, I must admit I have absolutely no idea why we kept that netting, given how many other things found new homes over the years - but I'm glad now! And the kale is growing a treat. alison.


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