"My garden will never make me famous,
I'm a horticultural ignoramus."
They say gardening can be a very Zen sort of experience. While your hands are busy ripping out weeds and pulling off last year's dead growth, so the flowers may grow anew, your mind is free to wander where it will. And that's true, it does provide a little quality time for the soul. I used much of my quality time paying attention to how much kneeling hurt my knees, how annoying weeds are, and if we shouldn't just rip out the entire garden and put in grass – as Paul repeatedly suggests.
In Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love she talks about her experiences learning meditation. When she tried clearing her mind she was distracted by how uncomfortable she felt sitting on the hard floor, how much her "ass itched," and all manner of mundane, passing thoughts. Funny how the mind works. Shutting it up takes a lot of effort. It's constantly bouncing around like monkeys swinging from tree to tree. Until you've worked up to shutting it up for just a couple of minutes it feels like a victory. But then you start thinking, "I am victorious!" and off it goes again.
Zen. In college I took a course on world religions along with my roommate. I remember learning about a form of Buddhism, and I don't know if it was Zen, but in this particular form the Mentor/Master would regularly ask the student a question of great significance. And if the student got the answer wrong, the Master would slap him. My roommate and I burst into laughter we barely concealed behind our book bags. For weeks after we'd ask each other impossible questions, then, after the other replied, yell out "WRONG!" and slap the other person.
I'm not sure Buddhism is supposed to work that way.
Yesterday I spent a couple hours weeding and sprucing up the garden, helping it wake up after months of dormancy. Since was sunny for a change, and seeing as I'm so near the end of the semester, having only one paper left to write – a mere 7 – 10 page book analysis – I figured I could spare a bit of time working outside. I thought I could probably use the Vitamin D, too, whilst upping my skin cancer risk by about 50 %.
I worked very hard weeding for approximately two and a half to three hours. The backs of my legs are still sore today, despite all the workouts which you would think would help prevent that (but imagine how it would have felt without the workouts). Kneeling and/or bending over are activities I thoroughly despise. I don't mind ripping out weeds. That's actually satisfying. I told Paul if we could just raise the flower beds by about four feet that would be ideal. As it was, all that bending gave me a raging headache, one of those that lasts all evening. It took six Tylenol to wipe it out. Six! And I still had a dull ache by bedtime.
I got about half the garden weeded, running out of steam when I hit the area with our tall, ornamental grasses. Paul chopped those down, managing to (turn away if you're squeamish) run a piece of very sharp dead grass through the pad of his thumb. Shudder.
This small bit of the garden (above) alone had so much insidious clover, not to mention "quack grass" which shoots out roots underground, propagating nearly as fast as the Octomom, it was unbelievable. There were also dozens of tiny maple trees starting to pop up, along with other miscellaneous baddies you can't see in the photo. And that's just a fraction of the garden as a whole.
I also got an owie from pulling out dead rosebushes that had overgrown one of the garden paths:
And you may feel free to thank me for not taking a photo of Paul's thumb.
As a bonus, you can see by this photo how freckly I am, how much a candidate for skin cancer. That's the Irish in me, coming down both family lines. It partially explains my blue eyes (along with my Dutch heritage), which my children also inherited, as well as my daughter's deep auburn hair and her own pale skin and freckles.
Funny how the Irish coloring skipped a generation in my case, but in the case of my children it didn't. Both my grandfathers had red hair and blue eyes, two traits I believe are recessive. I was born to two brown-eyed, brown haired parents, and had two brown-eyed, brothers, one of which had brownish-blondish hair and the other dark brown. And I turned out blue-eyed and blonde. I wish I could say it was because I was adopted. It would be a blessing not sharing their genes.
So, there you have it. Zen, gardening, a wide variety of injuries and genetics. All in one post. Who says excitement can't be found in the suburbs? And who says I can't stay on topic in the course of one post?
This is why they say variety's the spice of life. Or is life the spice of variety? I believe I need more Tylenol.