I dug in the dirt this week. Gardening for hobby and sport is not typically my thing. There were hours of childhood punishment picking rocks, and a proffer of pennies per bucket of weeds – which seemed outrageously futile, but the joys of horticulture largely escape me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love plants. Trees especially, and flowering trees extra specially. Cherry blossoms, chestnut spires, mountain ash crowns, golden chains, dogwoods, even elderberry. I love plants in general, and by way of a strange and geeky season in my life I actually know many of the Latin names. I also love the idea of gardening. I enjoy wandering through hair frizzing greenhouses, the humid smell of green, the sturdy heft of the tools, colourful crinkly seed packets, the promissory stick labels… it’s all so… optimistic.
It’s optimistic until day four when the lovely things you brought home and carefully planted fall over in limp yellowing death throws. Or until day 20 when the promissory stick labels are still solitary little monoliths. Or until day 35 when you finally get outside again and the fresh black earth and neat geometric planting scheme is now a compacted rockery of unidentifiable vines, thorns and exploding seed pods.
Ok so I’m not great at this. Like I said, not typically my thing. I won’t even discuss indoor plants… I get enough disparaging looks from the House Beast over the monthly cat-grass debacle. Meh, she loves me for other reasons.
But all that aside. I have been watching the patch of dirt in the back suspiciously for over a year now. It hasn’t made a move. “Patch of dirt” is perhaps generous. “Heap of rubble” might concoct a closer mental picture. There are rocks, and weeds, and coat hangers, and cigarette butts. Some old landscaping fabric, chunks of broken foundation and pipe, a rusty usb cable and a big hole. It’s perfect for me. How can I make that worse? So I picked some rocks and I spread some dirt and I found a few plants that purportedly “like full sun”. It was quite satisfying.
I noticed one very interesting thing as I picked and hauled and dug. Neighbors came round. Really. Just like in the Britcoms and housewife romances. They strolled past and said Hi, they walked their dogs by and commented on the flowers, they stopped to talk about the neighborhood and the weather – it was nice, and it will teach me (a previously private backyard lifer) to wear bras now when I go out to dig. Live and learn.