Tuesday, August 15, 2006

In a Gadda Da Vida...

I 'm sorry, it been a long time since my last post, even considering the summer factor. I've been lazy about it, as well, I confess. I'll try and do better. As a partial recompense, this is a looong entry.

Now for my perspective of Trish's post on gardening.

I first conceived this post while recovering from injuries I received gardening. Frankly, I had not considered it possible to become injured while gardening without a power tool being involved somehow, but I managed it. This was, I think, the first yard-work injury I have ever had that required more than a band-aid and methiolate to deal with. And this was despite the fact that for most of my life, yard work pretty much instantly implied power tools.

When I was a kid, yard care consisted of mowing the grass when it got too long, with occasional edging. Even that wasn't too bad once Dad broke down and ditched the impossible-to-start-self-propelled mower with a riding mower (with electric start. Woo-Hoo!). At what seemed to me to be random intervals, mom would send me out to clear weeds from the flower beds, of which we had two. Sometimes Dad would fertilize the grass, and sometimes we watered it. I don’t know who did the watering, Mom maybe. Dad was gone during the day, and I never recall having to set up hoses and stuff myself.

While I was single I lived in apartments, so I didn't even do that much. Of course, when Trish and I got married, we bought a house, which had a lawn. I picked up where I had left off as a kid, mowing it when the grass got too high. I added watering to my chores, and even fertilized it once. At what struck me as random intervals, Trish would run out and plant some flowers. I didn't think about that too much, as I was too busy trying to figure out the right kind of water sprinkler to cover the most yard with the least fuss (not to mention where it should be placed), as well as how long to let it run so the grass wouldn't die.

I was only partially successful with the watering gig, but the lawn survived, despite being huge and oddly shaped (we were on a cul-de-sac, so the yard was shaped like a pie wedge on a hill). When we later moved to Texas, our yard became rectangle shaped. This was theoretically simpler, but I had spent the previous two years working on that pie wedge, so it took me a while to adjust.

Trish had a couple of flower beds put in, and again, at what seemed to me to be random intervals, would go out and plant things in them. Oh, and I had to periodically chop back some shrubs. Thus our lives continued much as before, except for the vegetable garden she eventually set up. The garden was a new twist, and threw me for a while. Finally, after killing several sets of herbs and vegetables, I gave up and took to watering it every day, just to be safe.

So then we moved here. It took quite some time to think about anything out of doors, but eventually, Trish did. Oh sure, while we were having the place worked on she had talked about planting some stuff here and there but to be honest with you I didn't pay it much heed. I was too busy worrying about water faucets and what-not. Perhaps I should have.

After some time passed and we had more or less managed to settle in, she got to work in earnest. Gardening books began to appear on shelves, and magazines popped up on the table. Diagrams with the outline of the house and shape of the lot proliferated, with notes and squiggles denoting potential locations of various flora. To be honest, it was a lot like the way I get when I decide I need to really upgrade my computer. Of course, eventually I either buy the computer with the stuff I've picked out or buy the stuff and spend a day or two getting it all in place, at which point I'm done, aside from firing up the latest, hottest game and playing it.

Oh sure, along the way we spread compost all over the front yard, and I built a raised bed for a vegetable garden. Between those things and managing to install a brick walkway from the driveway to the backyard gate I was feeling mighty pleased with myself. But Trish had just gotten started. And in all honesty things get kinda blurry at this point, because the transition from her sort of noodling around and putting in a tree here and there to her returning from various nurseries with the entire back of her car (I'm not kidding. The entire back of her car. With the seat down. And she drives a small station wagon) full of plants day after day is lost to me.

I had to dig the bigger holes, and the holes in the tougher parts of the soil (which is mostly this gooey clay stuff, except when its rock hard clay stuff). I put in edging and border fencing (okay, that was my idea), dug more holes, built and put in an arbor (this involved renting an auger for the 3' deep holes), dug more holes, weeded, dug more holes, put in a misting watering system for the new vegetable garden, dug more holes…

And to think my folks paid for 6 years of college so I could avoid heavy manual labor. Oy.

Have I mentioned we made a special trip down our old ranch so she could pick up some ancient implements to set plants on and around? And an old iron bedstead? Or the coal-burning stove our neighbor let us have as long we we would pick it up? Which weighed more than an old Volkswagen? Then there were these "hypertufa" planters we made out of concrete and peat moss and stuff…Okay, actually, they looked pretty cool. But still!

Oh yeah, those injuries I spoke of. They were a wrenched foot and bruised tailbone. I got them -- wait for it--digging a hole. I was working on a slope near the curb, and when I shoved down on the shovel with my weight to force it into the tough soil, the shovel blade hit a rock or something and jammed. My foot slipped off and I lost my balance, but not before giving my body a good push up and back, towards the asphalt. Yeah, it hurt a lot. My butt was sore for two or three days…

Well. With all that, I have to say, it does look nice. We get a lot of compliments from people walking by. It does help when I'm nursing my latest contusion to hear someone say "I just love what you've done to this yard!"

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