Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hell is a Triangle

A miserable spot. That small triangle of dirt left after laying the stone wall that encased the dooryard up to the garage. Only about 40 square feet. A useless space seemingly perfect for some nice flowers, a small shrub or two. Instead it has become the source for years of gardening frustration.

I finished the wall over 9 years ago. And 9 years ago I made a first attempt to bring order and control to this baking spot. My first plantings fried in the Sun, withered and stank of cat piss as every cat in a 10 square mile area made this space their own outdoor litter tray. I swear I spotted Bob, our yellow Tom, scalping piss tickets to all his buds down at the end of the drive. I gave up and the weeds took over. It sat ugly and ragged until the next spring.

Okay, full of green thumb piss and vinegar, I attacked the triangle of Hell that next Spring with store bought plants, hand screened loam and such a deep weeding I was scrapping ledge before I put back the good dirt. Threw in a few rocks for effect and drew up a planting plan so every plant flowed into the next.

Looked great for about a week. Once again the cats and ole Sol had their way and my $100 dollars worth of plants and 30 hours of work shriveled up and died. I gave up. The weeds took over. It sat scalded and wild for the next 5 years. I'd perform a token weeding every year but let the cats have it to do with what they would. And cats being cats, they abused it as only cats can.

Everytime I drove past it. Everytime I rode by it. Everytime I walked by, I would look at this sad little patch and my ego took a hit. Plants and I usually get along. We most often seem to be on the same page. When they need pruning, I seem able to prune without pain. When I jam a cutting into the ground, 9 times out of 10 it will take root. Up until this stubborn spot, I was kinda proud of my green thumb.

I had finally been humbled. Handed my first real landscaping defeat. And my pride had taken a shot. Every morning when I got in my pick up to go to work, the insult was driven home as I had to walk past this hostile jungle of beetles and tall weeds hiding snickering cats.

A man can only take the same insult day in and day out for so long. A man has to stand up to his enemies eventually or he ceases to be a man. 10 days or so ago I reached that point. 10 days ago I was soaking in the pleasant yard I had brought back from the anarchy of the encroaching forest. Full of pride in myself, I walked my kingdom and was pleased. And then I walked past the Triangle of Hell. It's unkempt and rough appearance brought the whole yard down. And I became angry. Deep anger. I had had it with this constant reminder of my failings.

This was the year I would tear it apart and force my will down it's throat. This time though, I had to attack it on all fronts. Weeds, Sun, and the damn cats. A three pronged all out effort to finally put this embarassment behind me.

To beat the weeds, I once again scraped it down to ledge. Dumped in sand and to beat the cats, I filled it with rocks. Big rocks. Small rocks. Odd rocks, Round rocks and jagged rocks. Not a single spot existed that could be scraped up to cover even a drop of piss. Leaving 4 small openings for Sun tolerant flora, I headed up to the local nursery and dropped another 10 sawbucks on some junipers, cypress and cottoneaster.

I just tonight got them nestled into their new homes. The space looks great. My best and most intense effort yet. The cats seem puzzled and curious. But so far they seem to just pass through. The weeds have not fought back yet. And the new plants are, well, still new. For the next week anyway, I have a respite from the eyesore I have tolerated for 9 years. What happens in 2 weeks is anyone's guess. Odds are not in my favor.

Whether this effort proves successful or not is not the issue. It is the battle that matters. The struggle to overcome stubborn enemies. Victory is never complete. Battles are won and lost. The war never ends. To stand tall knowing I have been fighting the good fight is all I can hope for. To know the cats and their devious ways have been thwarted here in this space is a small taste of victory and I savor it's possibility. The little bastards might rule the inside of my home, but out here I am King.

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