Yard maintenance. In the middle of December, when landscaping and gardening were just far-off figments of my frozen imagination, taking care of my own yard seemed like something that would be a source of endless fun. As one who spent the past decade renting, I had little sense for the actual work involved in owning a home.
Reality check! Yards are a lot of work! Good work, I have come to realize. But work nevertheless.
Last month, when the weeds in the garden plot I inherited started coming in, I panicked. Suddenly I worried that I wasn't going to have time for a garden. Admittedly, it was a particularly full time at work, and when I am busy, I am also highly irrational. I texted my fiance, Justin, who lives in Cedar Rapids.
"I've got to do something about the garden! It's full of weeds and looks hideous! What if the neighbors hate the sight of it? Maybe I should just cover it up! I don't think I'll have time to landscape, mow, and take care of the garden. I'm going to Fleet Farm."
The irrational mission was clear: Avoid weeding at all costs! Cover up the garden! Ignore the weeds!
Fleet Farm is like my own personal version of the board game Settlers of Catan. I don't get it but I wish I did, and until I do, I'll just pretend. I don't go to Fleet Farm often enough to be familiar with the layout of the store, so a "quick trip" ends up taking an hour.
Another text to Justin, "I think I'll just get a giant tarp!"
Justin's response, "I don't think that's a great idea, Em. The tarp will grow mold. And what if we want to plant things there later this spring or summer? What about using some hay? Or garden fabric."
Me: "No, no! This tarp says, "Mold-free." I'm getting the tarp and I'm just going to cover it all up. Talk to you later!"
An hour later, I had traded the giant brown tarp for some garden fabric but it still didn't feel quite right. I was making a little garden mole hill into an insurmountable mountain. It was just a little plot of dirt that needed to be weeded, for crying out loud.
It was at that moment that I stumbled into the aisle of seeds. Seeds upon seeds. Flowers. Vegetables. Herbs. Everyone in that aisle seemed happy and capable of weeding, which made me feel like was capable of weeding, too. The solution was clear. Weed the garden and then grow the seeds.
Text to Justin: "Change of plans! I'm going to just go ahead and weed the garden. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm really irrational when I'm tired and busy."
And so began a new chapter in my relationship with weeds. Crab grass, bull thistle, creeping Charlie, dandelions. They aren't really so bad after all (their resilience and determination is inspiring!). With gloves and the proper tools, weeds come out of the soil just fine, and the act of pulling them is surprisingly gratifying.
In the end, the garden got weeded. Last Saturday Justin was in town and we planted tomatoes, peppers, beets, and radishes. I'm looking forward to homemade salsa later this summer!
So often it is tempting to avoid what we perceive to be difficult in our lives. We imagine it would be easier to just ignore our problems, wounds, and frustrations or cover them all up with a giant tarp. When we do that, we miss out on a lot of beautiful possibilities. Advice from a novice gardener: skip the tarp and do the work. Weed the garden. Then grow some seeds.