Gardening haphazardly

A friend of mine asked about how to organize cleaning up a yard and garden neglected for three years. Oy! A totally undeserved vote of confidence! We ourselves resignedly grow chickweed, dandelions, and crabgrass in the lawn-that-is-too-large-to-properly-weed-seed-and-water-during-these-tuition-payment-years (First World Problem!), but my observations this evening, after 4 weeks of neglecting our flowerbeds (in no particular order):

When the tender-hearted and observant seven-year-old comments about the interesting, hairy caterpillars carpeting the newly-laid mulch, pay attention.

Why am I not out here more often? It’s very peaceful. I ponder wearing gloves, but I’ve always loved getting my hands deep in the soil. That came in handy with motherhood, yep. I have 75 songs to accompany me: U2 and Bach (Wachete auf, ruft uns die Stimme), Doobie Brothers and CSNY, Thomas Dolby, Talking Heads, Vaughan Williams. Gemichst. Peaceful. Gemuetlich. ANYWAY…

The rosebushes WERE shrinking! There are drunken caterpillars flopped ALL OVER every single chewed up, pitiful branch. Well, the warning signs were there, and my sort-of-angelic messenger alerted me. My own fault. Gloves. Shake bushes. Remove vermin. Remove gloves because I’m distracted by teeny-bopper weeds and better to get fingers deep in root extraction. Return to caterpillars. Who needs gloves? Being almost 50 is freeing, you know? There’s been a lot of squish in my life… Toss caterpillars in heap on sidewalk. They’re too hung over to notice. Get ’em all at once.

The azaleas, pansies and flox (flocks? flochs?) are spectacularly colored. What’s Latin for “God’s magnanimity?” That should be the genus term of every single flowering plant. How often I walk by and carelessly admire the gorgeous hues peeping or shouting out of the earth and do not acknowledge His handiwork. At weeding height, the chickweed’s tiny blossoms are each uniquely crafted. Definition of a weed from a bygone science textbook: a weed is just a plant that ya don’t want growing in a certain place. (Our lawn, justified! They’re WANTED.)

Crazy that the weeds seem to mimic the plants-I-desire-to-remain, and they grow very closely, quite cosy with the blossomings. The roots of certain varieties are much deeper than their slender crabby shoots. Sometimes I take the time to dig deeply, but often I am rushing off to the large, precariously-clawed plants because it’s ginormously satisfying to haul those out. Look at that empty ground! If I don’t check consistently,though, those darn deep rooted ones that I didn’t excavate properly creep into that blankness.

One last tip: If you forget to chop and quietly dispose of the caterpillars, the tender-hearted youngest will wonder what will happen to them. He weeds out hard-heartedness, yes, he does.

Hope that helps, hon!



Every Fifth Word

Dear children,

In GB, Munich and at Loyola I wrote copious pages of youthful thoughts, filling diaries with struggles and yearnings, and 20 years later they seemed so silly, I chucked most of them. I wrote countless letters to high school friends before unlimited phone minutes and kept many responses, which you will find in a cardboard box down in the basement. (Do me a favor, don’t read them till after — well, you know…). I attempted to write as you each arrived, pasting most thoughts and funny experiences into the scrapbooks that I will finish sometime before the decade ends (I promise, M and L!!).

This year, I wish to write again! Perhaps not frequently, but as each one of you meanders past the “Every fifth word” stage (you know, like Charlies Brown: parents say “wahh, wah wah wah wah trash wah wah wah-wahhh wahhhhhhh morning Waaaaahhhhhhhh me” and who knew they wanted the garbage out before tomorrow morning? Like, I didn’t hear you say anything! (Quite true!)) into attentive adulthood and may want to read about here and now someday — well, here they are, meandering thoughts from your mom!

You’re welcome!