Somewhere between the mulch and the muck, it hit me. "I'm not sure if gardening is the therapy for work," I muse out loud to my patient spouse. "Or if I have to work to afford the garden."
Somewhere between the mulch and the muck, it hit me.
"I'm not sure if gardening is the therapy for work," I muse out loud to my patient spouse. "Or if I have to work to afford the garden."
He looks up from his newly discovered Spenser novel, leans back on two legs of his deck chair, takes a thoughtful puff of his daily stogie.
"That's so Zen," he says.
"Yes," I say modestly. "It is."
Finally, we've hit a Zen-like sweet spot in the apocalyptic year of 2008. We're past the thunder snow, the dirt rain, the earthquakes and (almost) the floods. Finally, at the zenith of the year, we've got sun. This time, it's not just a day or two. So far, it has been pretty much a solid glorious week of humidity-free sunshine.
"Nobody's taking it for granted this year," a co-worker says.
Absolutely not. It's a gift.
After months of $4 gas, sub-prime mortgage crises and the nauseous stock market that goes with them, there's light at the end of the tunnel. The very air seems saturated with sunshine. Forget soaking it up. This year we need to baste, marinate, grill and eat it.
Giddy, perhaps, with the suddenly sky-high possibilities, I recently agreed to do something I thought crossed off the daybook forever: Host part of a garden walk.
Years ago, I reluctantly agreed to open up the yard because a lovely Elmwood lady named Virginia Schulz asked. And it was a fundraiser. And I thought I could handle it.
"Well I could do that," one woman sniffed at my hostas.
As I recall, the broad was badly dressed, slightly tubby and from Farmington. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Well, OK, Virginia died in 1998, and I'm still brooding, so obviously there's something wrong with that. The rude woman hurt my feelings.
This may sound peculiar. Journalism is a pretty public field. Criticism is fair game. I take regular shots of the "You're too stupid to breathe" variety. Oh well. That's part of the turf, so to speak. Just don't pick on my petunias. (Note to Peoria City Council: If you want to get even about that library business, drive by screaming, "Your sunflowers suck.")
Recognizing my delicate-dewdrop status, I've ducked these otherwise-flattering garden tour offers ever since. Two years ago, there was a big geo-thermal mess out back. Last year, I was too depressed about the state of the newspaper industry to get off the deck. This year, mulling retirement along with pretty much the rest of the journalistic world, I figured a garden walk might test my readiness for the rough-and-tumble world of full-time flowering.
Short answer: At least try to keep your day job.
First, as we've all noticed, it might rain. A lot. Second, it's not June all the time. Third, it's expensive. Unless Ameren quits sending bills, I won't be able to do things like hire someone to haul mulch. I always thought mulch was like prayer for the garden. Use it regularly, it keeps the seedy part of life to a minimum. Unfortunately, I need a lot of mulch. Unlike prayer, it's not free.
At first muse, my shoulders sag. Then the Zen hits. Somewhat like the sunshine, every day's a gift too easily taken for granted. So I use the week's sunshine to spread mulch, scrub the fountain, hope nobody will be snotty. And if they are, so what? By the time you read this, the much-dreaded garden walk will be over. The light goes on.
Terry Bibo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (309) 686-3189.