This neglected motley crew of cacti (one with brewer's droop) and aloe vera have been sat on our bathroom windowsill for the whole seven years we have lived here. Previous to that they were on various other windowsills. We (I) have been carting the cacti around since 1992. I was, frankly, sick to death of them. The conversation this morning, before I set off for my walk went something like this;
ME - "You know those cactus in the bathroom?"
ANDY - "Yes..."
ME - "I want to get rid of them, I can't stand them anymore."
ANDY - "Me either, I hate the ****** things."
ME - "So, the cactus can go in the compost bin and we'll let the aloe vera take their chances in the garden" (as the aloe vera have the saving grace of being useful for treating burns)
ANDY - grunted.
ME - (cheerfully putting my jacket on and collecting my camera) "So, you'll do that for me, while I'm out?"
ANDY (becoming alert and looking gleeful) "HA! You don't want to do it yourself - you feel guilty!!!"
ME - "Yes. That is exactly it. I don't want to be a cactus murderer." (Then followed a rather silly imitation of high pitched cacti voices crying out for mercy).
So I went for my walk, noticing that someone was selling gooseberries up the road, and cursed because I'd not brought my purse with me. When I returned, there was a sorry little line of dusty pots lined up like condemned men, in the back yard.
ME - "You didn't put the cactus in the compost"
ANDY - "No. Why don't YOU do it?"
I looked at them. And realised I couldn't, having visions of bewildered, scared cactus lying in the dark smelly bin, fearful of slugs and wondering why I had abandoned them. But neither did I want the ugly things. This dilemma occupied a corner of my brain for a few hours, until I popped out to the Co-op, and on my way home, had a stroke of instinctive genius. I went into the library, because they, surely, would know what to do? After all, it's not just any old library: it's the village library. I approached one of my favourite librarians, crouched on the floor, surrounded by reference books.
"I have a problem". She stood up and brightly asked how she could help.
"It's not your usual kind of question..." an enquiring gleam came into her eyes. I explained, finishing off with the admission that I could not bring myself to commit cacticide. And, as it happened, she did have just the answer. The sickly cacti, in need of much TLC, would be perfect for her father, who used to grow them in his garden abroad, but sadly lost them all when he moved back to England. As he is poorly himself, it will be nice for him to have something to look after. And she herself would be more than happy to take the big aloe vera; she has been looking for one after someone told her they were good for burns, and she has a burn now that needs treating. So, I bagged them up, keeping the smallest aloe for us, and now they are off to new and better homes. No cactus were harmed and everyone is happy. Which is why I love village life...there are usually answers to most problems.