It was a problem I knew was building up. And I cannot say it was just due to the events of this summer. The mowing season of 2008 had been my last for taking care of our yard on my own. It is far from large, takes all of 30 to 40 minutes to get with a simple small push mower. But my busy schedule, getting older, et cetera, encouraged me to agree to the idea of letting Someone Else mow the yard.
Looking back now, that took quite a bit of effort to let go of this task. I’ve got some exacting standards of what I want done for the yard to be well-mowed. Seems in letting go, I really let it go. I went from caring just a bit too much about our yard, to not really caring at all. Seeing the grass shaved to close, yet not well-trimmed at the edges, drove me nuts until I got numbed and callused. I stopped patrolling for weeds and seedlings, cutting or pulling them as needed while they were still manageable.
As other things broke or wore out, stuff that did not fit well in the trash bins, the large chunks of debris started to pile up on one side of the house as well. Weeds and grass did their part in trying to hide these things. While someone else did the mowing in 2009, in 2010 my youngest took up the mowing duty, declaring how she wanted to earn some money via working for it. All well and fine, but I did not look closely at the work being done, or not done. And did not encourage better efforts myself, often doing little more than helping to get the mower started since only Daddy has the Touch (“The mower hates me, Dad!”).
Then the distractions got bigger and deeper in June, with the turn in my father-in-law’s health. Now we needed to worry about his yard too. What time I would have been at home to take care of our own yard was often used to be in Stockton instead of Bolivar. I could see things getting out of hand, knew I would need to get after it soon, even happened to do some tool shopping at the start of a weekend, thinking I’d get started before anyone else noticed.
Then push came to shove, with the Bolivar Code Enforcement Officer leaving his card on my door in the middle of a Friday, of that same weekend. No indication of what the problem was, just the pre-written card asking that I call to find out about the situation. A few day later, I was finally able to confirm things were as I expected. A complaint made about the south side of my house (Imma Looking at You, South Side Neighbor), he confirmed the complaint’s validity, and stated how we had time to address it before he made it official.
At least I was able to tell him the weeds had already been taken care of. Sunday August 29th, I took my anger and irritation out on a whole lot of tall grass, trees, stupidly large weeds, via a 9 inch curved machete. Has to be one of the “best tool for the job” I have ever boughten. “Clears tall brush” it says on the label for the blade. “And how” is what it should also say. Other tools helped with related clearing of things, and I even got inspired to clean the gutters, as the forecast called for rain. Just a day or two later, we had a good soaker, and the runoff flowed out as it should instead of just pouring over the sides.
I finished my Labor Day weekend early, by going back to Bolivar and packing up the trash. Much more time and effort than I might have first expected. But I did more weeding as that process went along. Often it was a matter of weeding enough to see trash, and then the cleared areas would allow me to then mow that area after more than a year of it never being cut or whacked at all. A bit ironic, perhaps, that there was a race going on between weeds and trash on that side of the house, and neither side one. In reality, they only drew attention to themselves.
The local trash company arrive earlier today on a special trip to haul the gunk away. I did not get a sign made or arrive in time to tell them to throw out the trash can I had used along with the rest, since it really is trash itself now. Otherwise, things are so much better than they were. Perfect? No, but good enough for now. With some application of time and effort, it will be easier to maintain at this level compared to all the work to get back to it.
Perhaps this was all yet another life lesson about Balance? Somewhere between caring too much for the yard, and not really caring one bit, I should have been able to get settled into the land of Good Enough without being told. And not with all the untold drama I managed to associate with finally getting some control back over the yard. I might even be struggling against the idea of Balance being best?
Ideally, for my personality, I get to do one thing at time, do it well, very well, and move on the next. Like Winchester in one of his earliest M*A*S*H episodes. Instead, I’ve had to adjust to being jack of many trades, fluttering to and fro. Stopping and dropping everything else I normally juggle every day, just to do simple, manual, honesty-day-of-work labor of weeding and trash removal, at least gave me a glimpse of getting to work on just one thing, and doing it well.
Even so, I’ve lived more than long enough to know that the weeding never really ends. Nature is always looking to reclaim what we build over it. Stuff we make and use will break, and I’ll be told (or know) to get it out of the house. I just need to do better at caring enough, again, to not let it pile up so deep.