THE RELUCTANT EMIGRANT, a weekly column by Denise Hession in Abu Dhabi
FOLKS in Abu Dhabi are chomping at the bit, waiting for the temperatures to drop below 40C.
Then will start the steady decline to a tolerable 35C, next stop an enjoyable 30C and then the glorious 25C plateau which will be the temperature all winter long. It will even dip to 17C or 18C on the very coldest of winter nights.
Meanwhile, the population of Ireland are facing into the last weekend in September and clutching the sides of their seats with dread of the winter weather and the knock-on effect on their outdoor activities and their gardens.
The only consolation for many is that the lawnmower operator will be taking a well-deserved break after a long season of mowing, trimming, preening and disposing the lush green grass that grows like wildfire all summer long.
Here, the expats are ready to take to the dirt- tracks, highways and beautifully landscaped compounds of Abu Dhabi, running, walking,
cycling and rollerblading. The preparation for the cooling down is well under way as it seems everyone is keen to get their garden in shape and create the perfect outdoor space. Others invest in a state-of-the-art outdoor grill, intent on barbecuing the winter months away.
There are drawbacks to living in intense heat. Trampolines turn brittle and snap, garden furniture gets faded and any smidgen of grass that was evident last April is now a scorched weed.
So begins the mammoth task of rejuvenating the green of last year. Those with cash to splash hire a gardening contractor, explaining in detail to the worker, who incidentally didn’t spent four years in college studying horticulture to get where he is today, how they would like their
paradise designed. Myself, I opt for a 5kg box of Big Green Grass from Carrefour and a hose, but despite my unwavering determination my efforts are without success to date.
Suffice to say that when I had dewy thick blades at home, I dreamed of sunny, far-flung destinations.
My failure to resuscitate the lawn was highlighted earlier this week, when I enjoyed a juice with a fellow Irish gal, in her heavenly garden next door. Her grass was
perfect, framed with peach colour pea gravel and peppered with flowering shrubs that seemed to overhang at just the right angles. The lawn had no worn patches or scorched areas; I couldn’t possibly invite her back without getting mine in order.
Not wanting to appear too astonished, casually I admired her garden and said I was working on my own. My heels were barely out the door when I dialled the number of the contractor. Come quickly I said, it’s urgent.
Three days later, he arrived at the door. Sitting him down on the faded plastic outdoor chair, I
explained my situation about the image I wished to project and the type of outdoor space I yearned for. He looked blankly back and replied: “No
understand, ma’am, please show.” This was how I ended up sitting in the gardener’s truck and, peering into my aforementioned neighbour’s back garden, I explained that I wanted it just like hers, even down to the large blue pots.
“This, ma’am, can be by tomorrow morning.” Not being a biologist by any stretch of the
imagination, I wondered how it was possible. “All this, ma’am, artificial, everything fake. Grass
synthetic, flowers plastic, the stones resin product.”
Appalled that what I thought was real, was really phoney. It made me question the whole friendship with my neighbour — what else was fake? There it was, the garden I hankered after, a mirage.
This all just proves the rule of life — the grass is always greener on the other side.