David and I are in the middle of gutting our landscaping. Are you jealous? Yeah, I didn’t think so. We live in an older home (we throw around words like “character” and “charm” a lot when we talk about the house, so you can probably guess the age of it…). And I think when you buy a house with some years behind it, you have to be prepared that the yard might, well, soon be in desperate need of a face lift. But five years ago we were new homeowners. To say we weren’t prepared is like suggesting that someone who can’t ride a bike should probably rethink that triathlon. And besides, I sort of hesitate to use the word “landscaping” when I talk about our yard. Wanna know why? Example A: the previous owners had stuck little black wrought iron fences haphazardly around the front and side yards and then had the audacity/funny idea/sadistic nerve to surround them with daylilies. Mound upon mound of daylilies which multiplied so quickly that by our second summer in the house we were weeping bitter tears from allergy-swollen eyes into our hoes and shovels. (Seriously, what’s their secret to breeding like that? And why do they smell so, so bad?). Add the stinking (literally, figuratively) lilies to the overgrown, dying-from-the-inside-out shrubbery to the forsythia bush that has two vines growing out of it that are so strong and thick and scary-looking I’m willing to bet the Neanderthals used them as lassos, and we had ourselves a fine mess.
So, needless to say, after a few little nips and tucks here and there, David and I are going full makeover on this yard this year. Right now we’re in the ripping-out stage, which David has had the brunt of, because one tug at some of this stuff in our yard and I swear I cry for mercy (Okay, I work out and all, but something like this calls for Xena). And my dear husband suspended his own gym membership, because he’s going to have muscles like the Hulk after all these weekends of wrestling with decrepit tree stumps. It’s awful (the ripping, not the getting ripped). It swallows our weekends. And the yard looks golly-awful. We, for lack of a better word, hate it.
Everybody but Saoirse, that is. We hand that girl a trowel and she acts like we bought her a pony. She spent two ours out there with her dad today (I was on sleeping-baby duty and got to stay inside and drink coffee. Shh. Don’t tell David). Apparently digging in the dirt (yeah, the Peter Gabriel song just popped into my head, too) is like going to Disney World for the preschooler. It was cold, but she puttered on, with her four layers of clothes and ruddy cheeks. She scolded Luca, our dog, to stay out of the road, and marched behind the wheelbarrow as Dad unloaded the ripped-up roots he keeps finding. She refused water, food (“No, Mom! It’s not lunchtime yet! It’s not early.”). And when she did finally tumble back into the house, mud on her face, hair that looked like it’d gotten into a fight with a squirrel, she was yammering away about the “snake” she’d uncovered (it wasn’t a snake, don’t worry. Just a salamander) and how strong she was. And David, the proud papa, said that when he went out later to work by himself, it was a lot lonelier. She made it fun, he said. He has a point. We spend our weekend mornings digging in dirt and pushing around wheelbarrows. That’s every kid’s dream, I suppose. Do you agree? Well, you’re more than welcome to send over your kids if they’d like to help next weekend. We’ll be inside the house drinking our coffee.