In some ways, leaving the terrace is about making decisions I have put off for years.
Like the New Dawn.
This rose is - as anyone knows who has grown it - a long distance endurance climber. It does not hold back. And after almost seven years it had wrapped its thorny, once-blooming arms all around one side of the terrace and over the door. Its lovely and delicate flowers appeared for two weeks, less in heat, and were gone.
May 2007, the rose party
But for some years it had not been well. Hanging in there, but desperate for more room. It made a good support for the clematis that I grew up through its canes, and for the Gloriosa lily that wound its little leaf hooks around the bare lower parts of the rose, and for the very, very tall lilies in the neighbouring pot, which I tethered to the New Dawn to keep them out of my way as I moved back and forth.
But some relationships have to end. A tipping point is reached and over you go (thank you, Malcolm Gladwell - imagine if he got royalties every time someone said that. He must hear it and wince and think - ka-ching!).
Today I cut the New Dawn back, and then down, and then tipped its massive rootball out of the large pot, and bagged it. The Frenchman had to carry it downstairs. It was too heavy for me to lift. I was not as sad as I thought I would be. But looking at these pictures does make me sad.
The terrace is a-kilter. Almost two thirds of the gravel have been removed, the filter fabric lifted to expose the deck beneath, the shady corner is no more. It will be left blank.
The terrace in its glory was a story. It is a story.
It will always exist.
* Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves, 1929