Pulling Weeds…

Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
Til the rain comes tumbling down.

My hands smell of marigolds and damp earth, and I have dirt under my fingernails, and even though I’m bone tired and my back is killing me, I have words and images racing through my mind. Why is it that one’s muse must visit at only inopportune times?

When I planted the front flower bed a couple weekends ago (was it a couple, or was it only one?) I planted some things improperly, and as a result, I had to replace the cosmos and one of the zinnias. I chose another yellow zinnia, added pink zinnias, bright orange mums, and another bunch of fuschia impatiens, as well as two sixpacks of red salvia, to balance out all the blue and purple. As a result, the front of my house is a riot of color.

Pullin’ weeds and pickin’ stones,
we are made of dreams and bones
I feel the need to grow my own cause the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain I’ll find my way in nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain to the music of the land.

While I was planting, sitting in cool grass in the last of the sunlight, our Brazilian neighbor, Lars, came by to say hello. He’s not really old enough to be my granfather, but he has a grandfatherly manner about him, and he’s funny and sweet. We chatted about the flowers, the weather (we’re having a mild summer, and I’m very grateful), and the various termite companies in town.

He spoke of growing up on a farm in rural Brazil, and washing clothes by hand. He asked if there’d been interest in the house yet (there has not, but it’s only been listed for 5 days, and we haven’t had our open house yet). He said, “Be patient, have open house, you’ll do fine. You’ll make a coupla bucks. That’s a good thing.” His accent reminds me of my grandmother, though she didn’t have an accent, not really, but he says my name the way she used to when she was calling me by Italian pet-names. Meleeeeeeza. I rather like it pronounced that way. It sounds less frumpy.

As I planted flowers, he asked if we were planning a garage sale. I said, “Later, maybe.” He commented that if he ever moved back to Brazil (with hand on heart) “Someday, before I die, God willing,” he would bring only his clothes, and a few photos. “We have too many things, the washer, the dryer, the diswasher.”

And yet, I commented back, we all complain we have no time.

He laughed. “So true. And lemme tell you. In Brazil, every Sunday, we went to church and came home and had sausage and eggs. Every Sunday! We didn’t know from bad. But we were happy. Today. Here. Not so much. Everyone is unhappy, spiritually and just regular.”

He turned to go then, and bade me promise to wave more often, to come say hello. And I went on with my work.

Plant your rows straight and long,
Temper them with prayer and song
Mother earth will keep you strong if you give her love and care
An old crow watching hungrily from his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I’m as free as that feathered thief up there.

I finished planting and checked in with Fuzzy (who, by the way, had inadvertantly locked me out of the house!), who was pulling weeds of a different kind, culling things from the garage for Good Will or Salvation Army or someone to come pick up. Yes, we had planned a garage sale, but neither of us has the patience or time for one, just now, and there are other more pressing needs – like giving Kerry the Termite Guy access to the garage walls, and making room for the boxes of clutter we’re purging from the house.

It’s ten. We’ve got another good two hours of work before us, and then bed. And yet I’m taking ten minutes to write this, to get some of the thoughts out of my head before I lose them, because if I don’t they grow like dandelions, tangled and yellow, but ultimately bitter and useless because I left them untended.

There’s an image, though, that I’m keeping in my head. I wish I’d had the camera to shoot the picture – the moment won’t be the same…just after Lars left, just before twilight became full dark, I looked at the front of my house – saw the light glowing through the panes of the living room window, and the plants hanging from the porch roof, and I thought, “Wow, that’s a cute house.”

And then I thought…we spend all this time making the house pretty to attract buyers, making it so neat that anyone would WANT to live in it, and then we leave, and we never do the same sort of work to the new place until it’s too late to enjoy it.

I hereby resolve that I will do all the special things to my new home early in my time there. I will not let this be a pattern.

Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
Til the rain comes tumbling down.

Note: Lyrics are from The Garden Song, as performed by numerous folk singers, and was originally written by Davie Mallett.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Pulling Weeds… by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.