Soil Shenanigans

A pouque short story starring: Witch Guernsey Gill, P’tite Jeanne Pouque, Dave and Martin.


P’tite Jeanne was feeling bored. Not much was happening at school. All the children were still in lessons.

As she walked around the school site looking for mischief, she spotted the groundshuman, Martin, painting something on the ground. P’tite Jeanne enjoyed painting so she went over to see if she could help. She watched Martin drive round and round on his little tractor slowly making a big circle of white lines on the field. The pouque did not find this very interesting and as Martin looked rather bored as well, she decided to liven things up a bit.

Martin stopped the tractor to have a drink of water as it was a very hot day. Whilst he was looking the other way, P’tite Jeanne sprinkled some very special powder into the paint pot. Le Grand Colin had given it to her last year. It was left over from when he painted rainbows on the buildings across the island, during the lockdown a few years ago.

Feeling refreshed, Martin climbed back onto his little tractor and continued moving in a circle so he could complete the lines on the running track. He was listening to his music and had the tractor in automatic, so he did not see what was being painted on the ground behind him until he had completed two loops of the field. He stopped and stared in astonishment at the curved lines of wet paint. P’tite Jeanne grinned from ear to ear.

“That looks fab,” she thought to herself.

“What a disaster,” groaned Martin out loud.

There in front of him was a circular running track but each line was a different colour starting with red and ending with lilac in beautiful rainbow shades. There were no white lines to be seen anywhere. He stared at the coloured lines wondering what to do.

“Perhaps the rain might wash out the colours,” he thought hopefully as he looked up at the deep blue, clear sky, without a cloud to be seen. 

Martin was reminded of the time that the students had got hold of his paint and drawn a rather rude picture on the field. He had turned the students’ picture into a large rocket. P’tite Jeanne was also thinking back to that occasion. With the help of the other pouques, it was them that had painted the original picture. The younger students had seen the pouques do this and they had told the older students who immediately claimed that the painting was theirs.

Martin headed off and P’tite Jeanne went round to the front of the school to see if anything else was happening. She watched as one of the teachers attached a trailer to his car in the school car park.

“Hmm, I wonder what he is doing?” thought P’tite Jeanne and decided to find out more.

She clambered into trailer as the teacher set off. It was a very bumpy ride and P’tite Jeanne soon regretted not climbing into the car. The trailer was old and creaking and groaning as the teacher went over potholes in the road. She noticed that it was also very rusty and wondered if it would actually make it to the end of the journey in one piece.

Twenty minutes later the car arrived at Chouet where all the green waste on the island was composted. Feeling a bit dizzy from all the bumping around P’tite Jeanne stayed in the trailer and sat down. She only just avoided being buried by a large shovel of soil and leapt out quickly. The teacher, who was called Dave, transferred the composted soil, spade by spade, into the trailer. The bags grew fatter and fatter with soil and the little trailer was soon groaning under the weight of it all. Having been thrown around on the journey there, P’tite Jeanne was not going to make the same mistake again. She was about to climb into the back seat of the teacher’s car when she heard a cackle. She turned around and there was Guernsey Gill glaring at her.

“What, what..” she stuttered, looking at the witch,  “what do you want?”

The witch gave her a grim stare and P’tite Jeanne shuddered.

“I need you to come and have a look at my broomstick.”

The island witches ordered the pouques around and so they were a bit scared of them.

“What’s wrong with it?” muttered the pouque.

“My broomstick runs on Guernsey cow burps and farts,” stated witch Guernsey Gill, “as you already know. Well, the farmers have been feeding the cows a special diet to reduce the cow gas to help with climate change and now I am running out of fuel. I need you to find me a new source of power.”

With that, the witch pointed her wand at P’tite Jeanne and she found herself glued to the broomstick. The witch took off with the pouque as her passenger. It didn’t take them long before they came across a human car accident. The witch pointed her broomstick in that direction and headed on down to the roadside. P’tite Jeanne looked at the broken trailer in the middle of the road with soil spread everywhere.

“That’s a good trick to play,” she thought to himself and looked around to see if there were any other pouques nearby who might have done this. She didn’t see anyone. “The human Dave must have managed to do this all by himself,’ she concluded.

She looked at the teacher with new admiration – a human creating as much chaos as pouques – oooh…that’s competition; she laughed to herself. She watched as a tow truck drove up and a big crane grabbed the broken trailer and put it on the back. The two humans swept the soil to the side of the road and set off.

“Bingo!” she yelled.

The witch looked at her.

“You are doing my head in,” she complained to the noisy pouque. “Bingo what?” she added.

“I know where I can get you a source of new gas,” shouted P’tite Jeanne, “follow that tow truck back to school.

The witch took off vertically and the pouque had to hang on very tightly so she didn’t fall off. The broomstick turned and twisted, defying gravity on the trip back to the school. Poor P’tite Jeanne, she was as green as the witch when they finally arrived at the school; tossed and turned in the trailer and now twisted and accelerated on the back of a broomstick. When they arrived back at school P’tite Jeanne noticed that the teacher was nowhere to be seen and Martin was looking despairingly at the broken trailer. She saw a lady teacher with white hair who was having a conversation with him. Arms were waving everywhere, and Martin did not look happy.

The witch and the pouque then watched as Martin very grumpily shovelled the soil from the broken trailer into his wheelbarrow, cursing and muttering under his breath. They both followed him and watched as he took the soil halfway round the school site and then tipped it into a planter which was outside a white building.

Guernsey Gill tutted, “Humans are so inefficient. I can do that in seconds with the translocation spell. “

P’tite Jeanne didn’t say anything.

“I don’t have time to do spells now. Where’s this new source of gas?” the witch demanded.

P’tite Jeanne led her back to a huge skip full of fermenting grass. “That decomposing grass is giving off methane. You can fill your broomstick from this and then if you go down to Mont Cuet, to the landfill, you can see pipes with little flames sticking out. The landfill is giving off huge amounts of methane – plenty to fill up your broomstick.”

Guernsey Gill looked at her rather impressed. “Thanks,” she said as she magicked the gas into her broom balloon and headed off.

“What about………” It was too late. P’tite Jeanne was going to suggest that the witch do her translocation spell before she headed off to help poor Martin. Oh well, never mind. When Martin goes to lunch P’tite Jeanne decided that she would give the college pouques a call and finish taking all the soil across.

Martin was rather puzzled when he got back from lunch to find that the rest of the soil had been taken round to the planters. He wondered who did it, was it the students or maybe it was that kind teacher with the white hair who had offered to help? He made a note to remember to thank her.

With the extra time now gained, Martin set off to prepare the college pollinator patch. He removed the grass in a big circle in front of a small flat roofed building at the bottom of a hill at the back of the school, and then used a very noisy machine to cut up the turf and dig it back into the soil. The students watched him do this and as soon as he was finished, they collected handfuls of seeds and jumped up and down spreading them in the freshly dug soil. P’tite Jeanne could not resist joining in the fun. As they were all older students and adults they didn’t see her.

What an exciting end to a tiring day.

À bétao (see you soon)