Friday, November 25, 2011

Scary Gardener and other Musings

I have to admit, I am scary when I'm gardening.  I find it amusing to read blog posts or advertisements for cute gardening boots, or pretty gloves.  No matter how much I tell myself I will only do "light" gardening, I nearly always return to the house frightfully dirty, wet, sweaty, and with twigs in my hair.  My garden gloves are all in a state of disrepair (most of them should have been thrown away long ago), wet, and dirty.  All three of my garden clippers are crippled in some form or another, and I keep going with them too.

Today I decided to take advantage of my day off work, the beautiful clear skies and balmy 8 C (46 F) weather - rain/snow is forecasted for the next few days - to "tidy up" the front yard a bit.  At first I started with pruning some wayward branches from my shrub, which would otherwise sag across the walkway once the snow weighs it down, and picking up leaves and twigs which were cluttering the garden or walkway.  But by half hour into it, I was cutting and struggling out large branches with the pruning saw.  I even started to cut a few branches which were above my head.  The last couple of times I did that, I ended up throwing my neck out of alignment, and needing a chiropractor to straighten me out.  After I cut two branches, I felt an odd feeling in my neck, so started praying and doing some neck exercises which could help.  I seem to have come out of that okay.  A bit stiff, but I think the neck is still safely in place.

Not deterred by that close call, I kept going with the pruning, and cutting out large grasses and other branches, until my large garden clippings bin was completely full.  I considered asking one of the neighbours if I could keep going and fill theirs too, but by then, my attention was turned to the driveway.  It was a great day for pressure washing the driveway and walkways.  So I fought my hose off the hose cart, and started spraying down everything in sight.  Although it is not a real pressure washer, we have one high pressure hose connection which does a pretty good job of spraying off most of the grime and certainly the sand and leaves and other debris.  I've always wanted a real pressure washer, but it's probably a good thing that I don't have one, since I've heard the horror stories about people who accidentally chop into their legs or other body parts with the pressure washer.  I'd be very likely to struggle with the hose, or get distracted, and do that to myself.  So I stick to my hose, and dream about one day hiring someone to do some real pressure washing.

I learned a few things when building our house, such as the importance of those grooves in the sidewalk and driveway, to allow the concrete to expand and contract.  So ever since then, I've been very careful to wash out those grooves a few times per year.  (Fortunately for him, my husband, who was less involved in the building of the house, is unencumbered by the need for any type of house or yard maintenance, happy to leave these matters in my capable hands.  On a good day, he's the first one to suggest going to the park or another nice place.  What does he think I'm trying to create in our own yard?)  Winter and very early spring are my favourite times, since I don't have to feel guilty about using water.  At this time of year, the water reservoir is more than full.  By summer - almost every summer now - there is crying about water shortage, and restrictions on its use.  It seems pretty funny, in a city which probably gets more rainfall than any city in North America, and which probably pays more local taxes (or any taxes, for that matter!) than any other.  Somehow, all those taxes we pay end up being squandered - I mean spent - on other activities, with not much planning on expanding the reservoirs which are now serving a population which is likely multiples of what it was when the reservoirs were built.  Anyhow, this time of year, I felt quite okay spraying good clean water down the driveway, clearing it off.  That allowed me to cool down a bit, since I had gotten myself a bit sweaty doing the garden cleanup.

When I'm deep into the driveway cleanup, having a solid line of dirt and moss and other gunk which I am systematically spraying down the drieway, I hear the phone ringing inside.  I turn off the hose, and head toward the house.  By then, my cell phone is ringing inside.  I catch neither, and notice only that it is from the office.  Most likely my husband.  So I phone him (busy), send him an Instant Message and email, and finally a voice message, asking if he is trying to contact me.  (An hour later, I hear back that yes, he was trying to call, and he answered his own question.)  By then, I have taken off my gloves, which are soaked through with cold water, but can't bear to put the cold wet gloves back.  So I decide to go with bare hands to finish the driveway and walkway.  The water is freeeeeezing cold.  Wow, I didn't know how much the cold wet gloves had helped to keep my hands warm.  But I am determined to finish, despite the cold hands.

By the time I arrive back in the house more than 2 hours later, I notice the bottom of my jeans are wet, and take them off.  By then I am shivering, sore, and otherwise feeling like I have been run over by a small car.  If I had been successful in borrowing a yard waste bin from my neighbours, I would have felt like I had been run over by a truck, which is the state I usually find myself in after being in the garden for a few hours.

It's funny, when I am in the garden, the cold or pain or anything other sensation is only a minor distraction or amusement to me.  I am so focussed on the task at hand that I lose myself quite completely.  I am not in the least bit lady like.  In fact, I don't feel much of a female at all, and hardly even human for that matter.  I am just determined, fighting, struggling, making progress one handful at a time.  I must be a pretty entertaining sight, if any neighbours were to notice me.  Not to mention that my standard gardening gear consists of my Victoria's Secret tank-style bra top with lace back, and a cut-off (yes, the real thing) pair of jeans.  Pretty scary sight, at my age and size, come to think of it.  In the winter, I add a T-shirt on top, and wear full length jeans.  But no matter what I wear, I almost always need to change, and often take a shower too, when I return.  But I wouldn't change it for a moment.  I love the challenging terrain (more on that in other posts) and the feeling of losing myself completely, to where I can only keep struggling away, musing about various things while I work.  But not thinking of what else there is to do - my TO DO list keeps growing longer and longer, despite how many items I finish and cross off.  There is no energy to spare for that.   Just the musings.  That's one of the things I love about gardening.

Happy late-season garden cleanup, everyone!


Alison said...

Oh My Goodness, this describes me to a T as well, when I'm gardening. So in the zone, not aware of anything or anyone else. And then exhausted, dirty and sore afterwards.

Garden Lily said...

Alison - I'm so glad you dropped by and commented, and it's great to hear I'm not the only one.

flowercents said...

That sounds like me as well, meaning to go out for only 5 minutes and then staying out for an hour or two, coming in looking like a wreck.

HolleyGarden said...

Oh, yes, I, too, wonder why they advertise gardening gear in someone that looks like she just stepped out of a beauty parlor. You have described not only what we gardeners wear, and how much of a mess we make, but also the feelings and concentration we have when gardening. Great post.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

I have forever questioned my sanity of putting off white carpeting in this house. Because there is quite literally a dull grey path from the doorway to the computer station, where muddy feet continually tromp.

And, there's mud all over the computer keyboard, too. I'm a freelance writer. Get my best ideas in the garden so I'm forever running to and fro. I'm guess I'm saying we must be soul sisters. :))

Nat said...

Hahaha, what a great post. It's funny how you might step outside and think you're going to do some light work and next thing you know you got the pick ax out and your covered in god knows what. My good shoes and pants rarely stay prestine as an improptu garden session often comes out of nowhere. I feel you pain.

Garden Lily said...

Thanks to all for your comments. When I wrote this post, I think it was a sort of therapy session for me - my "true confessions", since most of my blog posts only show the pretty photos and successes of my gardening efforts, and not the messes I get myself into while in the process of gardening. I am delighted to have "struck a cord" with so many "soul sisters" (yes Kate, I think we must be!). I laughed aloud at Nat's mention of the pick ax. Oh gosh, good thing I keep tools like that in the shed and often don't have the energy to climb the hill to get into them!

Flowercents and HolleyGarden - Yes, "wreck" and "mess" are words I relate to!

I look forward to hearing more true confessions from kindred spirits. This is great therapy!

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