Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring - The Good (BBQ), The Bad (Gardening), and the Ugly (Me).

I am so terribly suburban. It has been less than a year, and already I am a denizen of the kind of suburbia that aches for golf, craves barbecued food, and maintains his lawn. And this, all in one day, has come home to me in such a way that I am a little overwhelmed. When I purchased my house last fall, the one thing I made very clear to my family was this: I will mow the lawn. I will shovel all the snow. I will fix things that break and I will cook dinners and I will help with homework and I will do all the heavy lifting around the house. But I will not be pulling weeds. As a child, the one thing I hated more than anything else was weeding. I didn't like shoveling the snow, I wasn't fond of mowing the lawn, and I wouldn't have been against the idea of never washing another dish. But I despised pulling weeds. Getting down on your hands and knees, digging through the dirt until your hands were filthy, throwing them into a pile and then raking them up, all so you could see some kind of green plant without the interference of some other kind of green plant. Who cares if the lawn is all crabgrass? I would say. It's green, it's a lawn - where's the problem?

And yet, there I was today, out in the backyard cramming weeds into one of those big paper bags for yard waste, cursing this suburban life that has consumed me, body and soul. Well, mostly body. (As you can see from the picture I intend to put up a few posts from now. Or in that picture I put up with the cheerleader uniform.) My involvement in the yardwork came about more as an appeasement for my girlfriend than out of any desire of my own to have a pretty backyard. I still feel that one green thing is as good as another green thing. But my girlfriend feels strongly that a pretty backyard is essential to her happiness, and her happiness is essential to there we go. In fact, I was itching to get at the centre of the yard, this being my first chance at it since we bought the house. It's a big backyard, of a size where we could conceivably play soccer or catch with the kids (as long as they ease up a little). However, in the middle of the yard is a massive (former) garden, surrounded by rocks and stones and fragments of Gibraltar. It takes up the entire yard, and inside these rocks are useful things like decorative grass and currant bushes. Boy, I would sure like to be able to pick my own currants.

So I have been itching to get at this. Mostly because I want to play soccer with the kids, but also because I want to do some outdoor work. Real work, like digging, not fake work, like weeding. And best of all, it afforded me the opportunity to break out that other most-suburban accoutrement, the barbecue. Of course, every year, you must christen the barbecue with the most tasty thing available, price be damned! But we couldn't find the barbecueable cocktail weinies, so we had steak. This was my break in the yardwork, and we sat by the table, feet up, eating steak and dreaming about golf. At least, I was. I think my girlfriend was likely dreaming about doing more yard work.

After lunch, it was back to work, only now I was sweatier than John Goodman in O Brother Where Art Thou, and I took off my shirt to resume the work. Bizarre situation, isn't it, when it feels like it's 30 degrees outside, yet there's still snow on parts of your lawn. Well, almost as bizarre as my own situation, which involved several children exiting the school bus, looking into my backyard, and then doing a double take as they realized that not only was I fat and sweaty, I was also half hairless. The right half. My left half - still hairy. I'm sure those kids told their parents a fine tale upon their return from school, and I expect a visit, soon, from Neighbourhood Watch. At least when they show up, they might be dazzled by our clean, green yard.

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