Monday, December 18, 2006

Spring Clean Up

I have spent many hours grooming various yards over the course of my lifetime. At an early age my father considered me slave labor to use and abuse in his quest to maintain a decent looking yard. I have mowed acres and acres of grass. I have trimmed forests of hedges. I have pulled bales of weeds. And do not even mention the evil rake. I have worn out more than my fair share of those devilish tools.

Many a Saturday was ruined by my father's stupid insistence that we keep our yard as nice as the neighbors. As a strapping lazy youngster, I always looked with envy at yards the owners allowed to flow freely. Every neighborhood had at least one yard like that. A yard that was in a constant state of scruffiness. It was a rule I think. The one nasty house lot gave everyone else a standard to beat. The flip side was the one yard with nothing out of place or weed visible. The yard that always had that "Better Homes & Garden" look. The "anal retentive" lives here house.

With the high and low standards set, my father thankfully only insisted we fall comfortably on the high side of the middle. Control was his first priority. He never engaged in over the top efforts to one up anyone else. Still, the time needed to just maintain order was in my young mind energy wasted when a pick up game of football awaited and would need all the energy and focus I had just used up raking up every leaf into tidy mounds to be bagged and gotten rid of.

I am my father now. Unfortunately, I have no bitch to use and abuse out in the yard. I am still the bitch. My wife refuses to do any yard work. And that is okay. I tend to refuse to do any house work. I guess we have an arrangement. Unplanned and not discussed, we just sort of settled on what our individual responsibilities were.

When I took over this house back in 1980, I was an eager new home owner. I paid attention to details and kept the yard on a short leash. I remember spending up to 20 hours a week just keeping the jungle from creeping inside the borders my dad had set when he moved here in 1967.

At some point around 17 years ago, my enthusiasm nose dived. About the time I became a small business owner I guess. Most of my time was spent keeping the business going. By the time I got home, any energy left to mow or trim was MIA. I had shot my daily wad at the shop. So I let things go. I began mowing more infrequently. I stopped cutting back the encroaching forest. My home became that low standard for the neighborhood. And that is saying a lot here in this part of Acton, Maine. Neighbors here have very low standards. No post card yards on my road. And mine became the worst of the bunch.

Last year sometime I found I could not look out the office window and see who was driving up the drive. Noticing this caused me to notice other things. The piles of junk scattered about had begun to disappear behind screens of thorny vines. Anything covered up by a blue tarp had long ago lost the blue part. I began to mow more saplings than grass. My yard had gone native.

It has been over a year now since I began the impossible task of land reclamation. I have created huge brush piles. I have burned huge brush piles. And while I can see some progress, at this point all I have done is block the advance. The woods up here are insistent. They fill in as fast as I remove. The woods up here are attacking on every front.

So I keep at it every chance I get. For the forseeable future you will find me with yard tool in hand fighting the good fight. I have resigned myself that I will be forever in a state of perpetual Spring Clean up.

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