I’ve done 10 days of yard work in a row. This is significant for me. As in, “one for the record books, isn’t anyone paying attention to how much yard work I’ve done in 10 days” note-worthy. Especially considering yard work for me is motivated by guilt or shame.
Guilt: when hubby, who routinely works 12 hour days, spends his only time off mulching and gardening until he’s so tired he falls asleep before dinner. While I’m sitting on my duff in the sun enjoying a good book.
Shame: when eldest daughter asks if she can have “a few” friends over before Prom to take photos, and one look around the yard prompts an inner monologue beginning with, “Oh $h!t. This is a hot mess.”
Once I decide to start though, I go all out. My original motivation might be guilt and shame, but I’m fueled and sustained by rage and a pissy-Mom attitude that mostly involves yelling at dandelions with a lot of WTF’s thrown in. Just. Get. It. Done.
Somehow, I find all the tools I need. But the weather isn’t conducive to yard work the first day. It’s cloudy, rainy, cold, about 49 degrees, and windy. I push through the tasks I’ve set for myself, even though it barely feels like Spring. My nose is running and my fingertips are numb.
And then it warms up for the next four days. Really warms up. The temperatures were pushing 90 degrees for Four. Days. In. A. Row. In the middle of May. On Cape Cod. (This is not entirely normal.) I’m not even sure which extreme was worse.
I’m not a careful gardener, or a gentle gardener. I’m more like a bull-in-a-China-shop wielding a rake and wearing gloves. I rake like it’s my job. But really it’s not. I rake like no one’s watching. And thankfully no one is. Because I swear. A lot. If you’re unlucky enough to be a small plant, flower, or sapling just trying to make its way into the world, well, then you’re pretty unlucky.
I’m not careful. I’m not gentle. Sometimes I’m not even paying attention. (This is why I don’t grow the vegetables.)
Everything looks like a weed. If it gives me trouble, or it’s in the way, chances are it’s not going to make it. Except that vine-like thing that’s wrapped itself around the pool fence so intricately that I’ve decided it’s part of the landscaping, for now. Because it’s too much work to pull it out.
The sheer amount of yard work I had in front of me over two weeks was overwhelming. So I broke things down into manageable chunks.
I bargained with myself- if I could just get two sides around the pool raked and weeded, then I could 1) take a hot shower, 2) get a latte, 3) take a nap (pick a prize, or pick all three… I guess it depends on the day. And how much swearing was involved.)
Usually I don’t have the stamina for more than a few hours of this at a time. Mostly because it’s just not enjoyable. And I can think of about 58 other things I’d rather be doing.
The results of yard work are usually immediate, tangible, and gratifying. So why doesn’t this bring me more joy? ((Shrugs))
I do like planting annuals. But even that gets tedious. Eight hanging baskets, a row of 20+ impatiens all along the pool on one side. It looks beautiful when it’s finished, but while I’m doing it, I’m just head-down-and-get-er-done.
The weeding is the worst part. Bent over, kneeling, feet tucked under me, Rose-of-Sharon branches pulling at my hair, I can’t help but think there’s something crawling on me every 5 seconds. I have discovered if I lean forward while on my knees and weeding, without propping myself up with either hand, it’s an excellent workout for glutes and hamstrings. Conversely, my body protests loudly if I spend too much time kneeling all the way back and sitting on my heels. I look like a 90 year old with osteoporosis when I try to get up.
Even worse than the aching back, knees, or ankles, or feeling like I constantly have a tick on me- is putting all this work into it, knowing I’ll have to do it all again… and probably pretty soon.
I completed the toughest section of weeding last Tuesday- a full twelve days before Prom. If you’re my neighbor, you might have heard me muttering while admiring my weed-free zone, “Dammit. I’m going to have to pull more of these little f—ers in a few days, aren’t I?!” I looked down at the bucket full of spindly-two-leafed, single-rooted buggers that can pop up by the dozens through four inches of mulch faster than I can type up this blog post.
Ok, maybe that’s not a good analogy given my infrequent postings lately.
But at least now you know what I’ve been doing instead of writing.
I’ve hauled more than 20 bags of mulch all over the front and back yards. I’ve gotten mulch in my eyes, my nose, my hair, and under my finger nails, despite the “good” garden gloves. I’ve raked and weeded around newly budding hydrangeas whose “winter sticks” have scratched me so badly that I look like I got into a fight with a stray cat. The evil blister I got from my Furious Raking is finally healed after a full week. And I’ve gotten so many bug bites that I look like a Mid-Western kid at a measles party.
But it’s almost done. The yard will be Prom Photo Ready.
Let it be duly noted that because I kicked my own butt this week and last, I am taking full advantage of resting on my “laurels” this Memorial Day weekend. I’ve completely used up my allotment of Guilt and Shame for motivation. I. Am. Done.