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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Spring Yardwork Whining volume 2

Last week, I wrote, among other things, about a bare spot in my lawn. My feelings that it might have supernatural, or even extraterrestrial origins. Actually, I didn’t write about extraterrestrial, that just came to me today, but it seemed to dovetail so perfectly into the narrative I am adding it now. Maybe a tiny space ship lands there, burning away all the vegetation and unleashing an army of clover, dandelions, broadleaf grass and some green mossy looking stuff that is almost impossible to kill. These little alien flora marauders crawl through the neighborhood taking over lawns, choking gardens, eventually destroying the mankind one yard at a time, talk about invasive species.  But, that is just a theory.

It is a funny thing, dirt comes in several levels of quality. Our “dirt,” the stuff in our yard, with little nutritional value for plants is called with much derision “clay.” It is the bottom rung on the ladder of dirt quality. There is topsoil, garden soil, potting soil, lawn soil, peat moss, bags of stuff I can’t even remember the name, a whole range of bagged dirt, from dozens of companies stretching into the depths of the garden center at the local hardware superstore. Some labeled “organic” as if dirt can be anything else. For this job we bought topsoil.

Anyway, I built up the area with several bags of topsoil. Topsoil is sold in medium sized bags weighing hundreds of pounds. It is like wrestling a floppy, compressed car stuffed in a flexible plastic shell. I thought it was going to kill me.

Cutting the bag open you couldn’t help being moved a little by the rich, dark, aromatic, almost beautiful quality. And, for a few brief seconds I felt connected to the earth, in tune with the forces that breathe life into seeds. I felt a deep attachment to the plants, struggling to break through the dark embrace of soil and reach to the warmth and nourishment of the sun. For the smallest instant carrying the heavy bags up the lawn seemed worth it. 

Until I looked at my hands and forearms, they were filthy. My back ached, my legs were sore, and shaky, and I was drenched in sweat. And I still had to spread the grass seed. Curse you, photosynthesis, curse you lush green grass, and whatever had created the bare spot in my lawn. Curse you all the weeds that had poked up all around my lawn, all over the neighborhood. Curse the rules of polite society that have classified the stuff that grows so readily, so easily, as undesirable weeds. Dandelions, with their bright yellow flowers have a beauty, and require no help, they just grow, don’t they deserve to live, too?

There are a few more spots in the yard that need attention. Today we are off to buy more soil, trips through the madness of spring time warehouse club hardware store shopping. We will look and my wife will ask which we should get, as if I know anything about it. I will steer her towards the smaller, lighter bags, easier to carry, not so liable to cause injury, and she will decide on the bags from the Scotts, or Miracle Gro, the best name for the best price. It is our little spring dance.

Still, there is something satisfying in yard work, I can’t deny it. A freshly mowed lawn is a treat, the aroma, the manicured appearance, the neat clean lines from running the edger along the sidewalk and street. Lines of demarcation, the sidewalk and the yard each have a place, and each should respect the other. The uniformity, the neatness, the precise, orderly green of man and grass working together.

It is work, and it never ends, but it is like life, if you put in a little bit you get back a little. And really if you can live with that you can live pretty happily.