Dirt Catharsis - Like a Golem.

You know this one: I went out to get the mail but I could not just walk past the bucket, the hedge clippers, and the weed-monster.

The stand of poke-berry was taller than I am; I wish I'd taken a before-photo.  We aren't ready for the after-  yet; the area looks like we're midway through a Marine's first haircut.

I do yard-work only when the landlords aren't home. It's not like they'll rush out and stop me, but I'm preventing an unknown awkwardness which makes sense to my inner mind. Some weird balance is struck; so be it.

It took a year of living here before I was comfortable making moves against the foliage. At first I wasn't sure how many of the cars coming and going actually belonged to the household or who was in charge of what duties.

Since the kids moved out, and it's just Mr. and Mrs., I have a good sense of what gets done and why - time and mobility limits most likely apply. Also, I now get paid to feed their cat when they travel, which is often, so I feel at-home enough to make some decisions. Just not when they're home.

Karma is not universal; pulling weeds for challenged landlords does not equate to good luck with car repair, for example. Yard work is cathartic, though. It has short-term gratification as well as long-term; there's a decent enough element of risk if you forget to take your allergy meds, discover a wasp's nest,  or drop the machete. If it's sunny like today, you get an added boost of Vitamin-D. You are likely not getting enough.

I love digging in the dirt, shaking loose the gravel, shaping feelings of ineffectiveness into something new and living, like a Golem. My efforts defend me from myself. Also, my inherent judg(e)mental nature is appeased: I get to choose who lives and what dies. I may have found poppies out there today - this is exciting. We can't be sure until next year.

Taking down a burgeoning copse of poke-berry has got to be a feat close to butchering a woolly mammoth: reach deep, make some calculated cuts, lug the guts into the cleared work space (in this case, driveway.) I marveled as I cut into a trunk of poke-berry dense as a tree; as I pulled it loose from the entangling branches and vines I found that it was a tree - walnut, maybe sumac. I took down random poke-stumps to ground level, and then pulled on a pesky teenage-size stalk which turned out to be one of my green zinnias. Oops. Clearly this project needed to wrap up for the day; I brought the zinnias into the cottage and put the cuttings in a vase.

I still didn't get the mail.

Update: They weren't poppies.

Lagniappe: here is a picture of my early-morning visitor, an Eastern Box Turtle. My brother kept one in our wading pool when we were kids. I wanted to take a picture of Turtle's funny walk, but he suspected my motives and refused to move if he could see me.

Further Viewing:

Poke Sallet is a thing, and it's not salad. Here you go.

Poke Salad Annie - Tony Joe White
I got no groove - I'm extremely, stereotypically White in that regard. True classic, though. Thank Hugh. 

25 Benefits of Gardening - Happy DIY Home  If you know me, you know I prescribe gardening to fix writer's block, general ennui and malaise, and solving Gordian knots. Happy DIY Home agrees.

Today just turned into a Peter Gabriel afternoon. This is the most awesome video I've found for Solsbury Hill.


  1. This one is just awesome. It also motivates me to get my butt out into my own yard and pull up some of the Bermuda grass which keeps weaseling its way into my rose bushes and lantanae. Thanks for another most enjoyable something-to-read.

    1. Thank you, ma'am! I especially like this one, too.

  2. This morning is my gardening day. I get up early, at 6:30 a.m. if I can make myself do it, and get my watering over to my side of the yard before the main house sprinklers go on. If I wait until 7:00 a.m. I share water pressure with the front yard, and if I wait later than 7:30 a.m. I stand a good chance of getting wet.
    This morning I discovered a new lizard. I've been seeing baby ones, two or three inches, but this is a new young adult, spotted whereas my favorite girl Lizzie is a beautiful army surplus dark green, and larger. I have no idea if Lizzie is actually female. She used to hang out with a bigger lizard, fatter, who was sorta a dirt color that I named Leo. I came out one morning and they were sunning themselves on the brick edging to the flower bed and had their little paws crossed, like sweethearts, so I made one of them male, the other female. Leo disappeared, but Lizzie turns up in my yard area, anywhere in it, and is unafraid, so I worry about her. Now we have Spot, sex yet to be attributed.
    After watering, I clean out the chicken water bin, and then curl up the hose, properly, with the yellow stripe showing. Second cup of coffee time!

    1. She may have. I am constantly on guard to make sure that neither the chickens nor any of the dogs eat her.


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