Disclaimer: If you are a serious gardener, reading this may cause chest pains, shortness of breath, and outrage.
I like to garden. And when I say that, I mean I like to look at pretty gardens. But every once in a while (usually when we are about to host a church barbecue at our place), I psyche myself up to weed planters. Prune things. Mulch stuff. I put on my special gardening shoes and gloves, and announce to everyone that I’m going out! To do yard work!
First, I like to do a survey of all the work that needs to get done. This involves wandering slowly around our entire place and hmmming, occasionally pinching off a bit of a wild herb to smell, and congratulating myself on looking like a professional gardener by pinching off and smelling wild herbs. As you can imagine, this can take up a good deal of time, especially since I usually end my survey by standing in the yard and looking longingly at the deck chairs, wondering if actually, it might rain, or perhaps, it really is too windy to do this. Sometimes the answer is yes.
But if not, I get down to business. I go to the front planters and start pulling. I never start with any garden tools, like a hoe or a handy spade, because it’s much better to frustrate yourself on stubborn weeds for a while, until it suddenly occurs to you that there are indeed implements that make this sort of thing easier. I retrieve the tools and renew my efforts.
We have a Crazy Mint Something in our front planters. You could cut it down to the ground and a week later it would be the size of a Saint Bernard. So I start grabbing handfuls and ripping haphazardly to clear a small path on the overgrown sidewalk. The bees have found me.
It is about this time that The Husband takes pity. It bolsters my energy slightly to see him march out with his own gloves on, pulling and grunting and commiserating.
“This mint is out of control!”
“It will take us days to pull out all the excess!”
And then suddenly, with inspiration, “I wonder if the pole saw would work on this stuff.”
“Do it,” I say, not having a clue what a pole saw is, but thinking it sounds high powered, and therefore fast. He brings out what looks like a long and slender version of a chainsaw, fires it up, and proceeds to buzz cut the Crazy Mint Something in thirty seconds flat.
“I’m going to mow,” he tells me.
“But you see the line of daffodils growing in that part of the yard? At least I think that’s what they are. Anyway, don’t mow over those!” I order, as if I myself put in the hard work to plant and cultivate daffodils; they are merely a remnant of a previous owner.
“Huh?” he asks as he walks toward the mower, and then, vaguely, “Okay.”
The Husband mows, while I butcher the rose bushes and attempt to edge a grouping of plants that may or may not be weeds. What is this giant leaf growing out of the ground here? Is it a squash? Is it a weed? I decide to leave it. I am struck anew by my total lack of horticultural knowledge.
I walk around and do another survey, this time taking up-close and blurry pictures of just about everything on our property, and sending them to my mom in a series of texts with the words, “What is this?”
The mower stops and Husband trudges back to the house, mopping sweat off his brow.
“Did you go around the daffodils?” I ask anxiously.
He stops. Hands on hips, he simply looks at the ground, defeated, and shakes his head.
“Don’t you think it’s probably about 98 degrees out here? It’s not even healthy for us to be outside working right now.” I am already taking off my gloves.
He looks at his phone. “Weather app says it’s 72.” Oh.
We stand in the shade, both looking critically at the weeds in the driveway, the scruffy planters, and the trees that need trimming or felling. The only sounds are the birds and the goings-on at the neighbors’ house. Both spouses across the fence are also out. She’s mowing what looks like a carpet of brilliant green velvet, and he’s raking and burning the five leaves that accumulated since the previous day. There are glorious sprays of lilacs, immaculate beds of tulips, every tree expertly shaped. They give us an affirming nod every once in a while as if to say, Great job finally getting out here, guys! You can do this!
“Look at those weeds over by the fire pit,” Husband finally breaks the silence.
“I like it like that,” I begin to rationalize. “I think it’s better for the kids to have a bit of a wild space to play in. Not overly planned, not too sterile. Like, they’re out in nature.” This is, of course, the kind of thing I come up with when I don’t want to tackle a certain section of the yard. I’m not fooling anybody.
We head to the house to make dinner. The Husband kicks the kids off of their electronics and outside onto the freshly mowed grass. They race around, playing an elaborate version of tag, and giving Tarzan a run for his money with their jungle howls. The growing shadows from the evening sun and the smell of the lawn cast a pleasing filter over our home. I suddenly realize the kids do not care a whit about whether something is a weed, or how high the mint grows.
“We did such great work today!” I exclaim through a gulp of iced tea. “I think I might try to garden again in a few weeks!”