Earth bound

The work is never done. But the feel of the dirt and the smell of foliage fuel a desire to plant. To dig. To grow. The thrill of the release – the sudden slack of a weed pulled completely from the Earth, ready for the garbage, where it won’t get a chance to crowd out the intended flowers and vegetables.

Gardening is a summer long job. Yet, it’s an enjoyable one. Something about grubbing around and working in the sun just to produce a single tomato or solitary flowering plant is insanely rewarding. It could be the feeling of accomplishment. Or, it could be the cold beer and promise of exhausted rest that comes once the job is finished.

For me, it’s a bit of this mixed with a bit of competitive drive. I want my yard to garner praise, to be looked at with admiration as the bevy of walkers trot past our house. I just want it to look nice, really, but it turns into a sort of competition as I struggle to produce a yard with a group of gardens that put the rest of the block to shame. It’s this way in the beginning of the summer.

Every year, however, I realize that I’m fighting a losing battle. I’m working against one of the more beautiful neighborhoods in the city, the McKennan Park district, and I’m going head to head with older, retired couples that have nothing but time or wealthy families who have gardeners. As a DINC family (Double Income, No Children – thank you Kerrie for introducing that term into our lives) we have only the afternoons and weekends to work, and it’s unusual that we do. It’s a hobby, not a way of life. I don’t need to worry about our gardens, or our lawn, as much as I try to in March and April.

Sure, I should probably realize this earlier in the year. To tell you the truth, I am. Each year, earlier and earlier, I let the garden do what it’s going to do without personal worry. There’s no need to lose sleep over it. Things that grow on their own will never be as perfect as I would like, and the earlier I realize this every year, the earlier I can start having fun.

I realized it last night, as I was thinking of everything we needed to do. And now gardening can be fun. It’s only April, and I’ve finally given the Earth a chance to do what it’s supposed to do.

But don’t think I’m going to stop worrying about it. I just won’t let it take over my thoughts while I’m digging around in the dirt.

See? I’m becoming more and more civilized every day.

So let’s hear it for summer – late spring, actually – and everything that it brings. Let’s hear it for nice days, for the patio furniture and for the Weber grill. Let’s hear it for bug spray, for peat moss and for lawn mowers. There’s nothing better than being outside when it’s nice – camping, grilling, reading in the patio chair. Whatever.

Too bad it’s raining outside, eh?

This was lovingly handwritten on April 24th, 2006