Between the snow and the rain, my yard has been a soggy mess, discouraging any effort to start spring maintenance. The house sits downgrade from the road, which makes at least part of the property wetter for longer; yesterday was just the second day on which my schedule converged with the weather forecast to allow for any work outside.
I was too late.
All that moisture has made everything grow like a weed. Of course, most of it is weeds. Last year, a friend and I tried to dig out all the dandelions, which, like an advancing army, are slowly taking over my yard. On one briefly dry day last weekend, desperate, I Round-Upped them. In defiant response, they have simply dug in their heels and spread. The dandelions distract me when I pass by; like a sniper trying to pick off an enemy surprised in a clearing, I can’t resist pulling out my weapon of choice and giving it a shot. My yard is covered with divots made by man and beast: I flail at the weeds, the skunks burrow for the grubs.
If the crabgrass and the dandelions have already formed a unified front, the small purple bushes with stickers are conspiring with the rose bush just down the way to prevent weeding the beds and impede the progress of the iris. I have no idea when you’re supposed to prune those damned bushes, but I did it yesterday anyway, and badly. My right forearm bears the battle scars.
I grew up in the suburbs, where I learned to fight nature until it surrendered, waging a long, steady battle armed with weed-and-feed, a gas mower and an edger. The more I garden on my own, the more respect I have for Mother Nature’s determination to do things her own way. Yes, the violets are invasive, but they’re beautiful. The dandelions provide color. There are earthworms everywhere. Even the branches of the prickly bushes have a warm, saffron-toned yellow that appears when they’re cut, a happy, startling contrast to their purple exterior.
My long-term battle plan is to gradually replace most of the lawn with paths, perennials and an expanded deck. Until then, I’ll take my time, enjoy the feel of earth between my fingers and the satisfying ache of my shoulders after moving wheelbarrows full of dirt. But I’m keeping an eye on those dandelions.