Is there any activity that you like to do, but you're just no good at? For me, it's gardening.
I love being outdoors in the spring, breathing in the moist soft air, getting my hands dirty in the loamy soil, and dreaming about the flowers, vegetables and lush bushes that will soon adorn my property.
So far this spring I've been out in the yard about a dozen times. I usually go for about two hours at a clip. I used to do more, but now my knees and my back will make me answer for any more work than that. Not to mention getting just totally exhausted if I do too much.
But even as I've been digging and planting and fertilizing, I see how the weeds have already begun to encroach on my property. I have done some weeding. I pulled out probably a hundred dandelions (I actually like dandelions, except they do have a tendency to spread too much and too fast), as well as handfuls and handfuls of other Unidentified Weed-type Objects (UWOs).
And that's what stops me. Right now the pretty green grass dominates the lawn. But I remember last year. In May my yard looked beautiful. By August it looked like a post-apocalyptic landscape choked with UWOs.
There's no way to stop them, short of shooting Unidentified Spraying Liquids (USLs) equivalent to the entire annual production of Dow Chemical over your yard. And aside from my general concern with the environment, I have a well. I don't want to drink that stuff!
Then there are the bugs. Again, I don't want to spray them with a tanker-load of USLs that the USDA probably outlawed in the 1970s after decimating the jungles of Vietnam. So I don't know what to do . . . other than watch the bugs wiggle and squirm along my plant leaves. I can almost hear them munching and belching and leaving their "trails" all over my yard.
As if that's not enough, I have a woodchuck living under the shed. He (or she) is ready to pounce on any edible vegetable matter I try to grow on my little corner of earth. And the other day, when I cut the grass, I was reminded of the moles -- or whatever the heck they are -- that burrow through my lawn all spring, leaving the ground as bumpy as an old-fashioned washboard.
I swear to you this happened: Last week I was bumping along so much, and so hard, I broke clear through the metal bar that holds the mowing deck on to my tractor. It's in the shop right now, getting fixed . . . resulting in a bill, no doubt, equivalent to the entire annual income of Dow Chemical.
And yet, through all this -- the bugs, the animals, the UWOs -- my bushes and trees grow like they've tapped into some kind of underground radioactive fertilizing source. I can clip and prune with the best of them. Or so I think. But I know I am never ruthless enough. I can't bear to clip down as far as I'm supposed to go -- oh, that new growth looks so pretty, and so precious -- and so most of my bushes end up overgrown and leggy. Then they eventually get high enough that I can't even reach to trim the tops.
Will this year finally be the year I break down and hire a lawn service? Most of my neighbors do (although not the fellow who lives directly across the street from me-- he's out there on a Saturday morning cutting the grass, just like a suburban dad is supposed to do!).
I remember, back when I was younger and had a wife and family, and lived in a four-bedroom house on a nice suburban street, there was a woman who lived in the house down on the corner. I never met her. But many times I saw her out in her yard, cutting the grass and trimming her hedges, and I used to tease my wife about how that woman was a true feminist, and obviously a model wife and mother as well. (And I wonder why I got divorced?)
Well, I haven't called the lawn service yet. I can't see paying $50 or $60 a pop, just to have someone mow the grass. Plus, that doesn't even cover all my UWO problems, and I know their only solution will be to spray enough USLs to turn my yard into the next Love Canal.
So I'll go out there again (as soon as this horrid rainstorm that's been here for three days and left enough water to float Noah's Ark goes away) and try again. And I'll pretend I'm not the ancient Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill. I'm just your typical suburbanite trying to spruce up his yard.
Besides . . . there are always the bulbs to plant in the fall.