Posted by: bullyforme | May 28, 2010

Memorial Day, and a Dirty Girl (revisited)

Hello all, it’s been a long, long while since I’ve fired up the keyboard and wrote anything other than some boring spreadsheet or log for work.

Summer is almost here. It’s Memorial Day weekend. I always get kind of creeped out when I hear people say (with the best intentions, but still) “Happy Memorial Day!” I mean, isn’t this a day to remember those who have died? It seems that the media (you know, my old friend, snort) has turned it into a summer frenzy free-for-all. Let’s not forget the real purpose of this day. I know that the day is traditionally to remember those fallen in war, and anyone else who has served our country and passed on. Despite the fact that he’s not a fallen veteran, it’s always my brother that my mind turns to on this day. My brother passed away in 2006 after a battle with brain cancer. I miss him so much, and since I inevitably think of him on Memorial Day, it’s hard to hear, “Have happy Memorial day!” But, I will try to enjoy this weekend that in current years has become a hearkening of the summer season.

Speaking of summer, I finally got my garden in. I have tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn, and some herbs. I have tons of flowers, and my roses and clematis are coming in beautifully with a little TLC from me. It’s not much, but it looks much, much better than last year’s mess. My roses never bloomed, my vegetables all died. I really haven’t tended my gardening well, to be honest, since…well, since Mike passed away. I’m not blind to the obvious. It’s been hard to nurture my garden…watching plants with their gaudy display of life; it was difficult. I know I’ll never “get over” my brother’s death. But I am ready to begin nurturing life again. I’m not over my brother, but I am at peace with his spirit all around me, in my house, in my car, and behind the life force of all my beautiful plants. So. Let’s dig, baby.

(The following is one of my favorite blog entries from long ago in Bullyland version 1.0, I hope you enjoy it).

Dirty Girl

The onset of spring, with its baby green offerings, really sucks me in with its promise of continuity. No matter what happens in my life, that peony is going to emerge, red and purple like a newborn baby and pushing up at an amazing speed from a blank spot in the soil every April. I am in awe and buzzing with excitement this time of year. I pace the yard every morning and evening, to see what plants are coming up, what is getting buds, repeating a kindergarten mantra under my breath, “ready, set, grow.” I start making a list: dirt, compost, peat moss, purple & orange annuals for this spot, white and purple for that spot, etc. Through some mysterious metamorphosis I have become a plant loving, dirt digging obsessed maniac.

I have no idea how this happened, but it began about the second year into my homeownership. It started with a couple of container plants, and by the end of the summer I’d nearly relandscaped the entire yard with over 100 new plants. Now, I’ve never been one to like dirty hands or clothes. I’ve always been comfort oriented, and dirty fingernails and muddy feet weren’t in my program. Insects have always horrified me, especially spiders. I managed to contract some sort of mental disease that not only gave me a new tolerance for such things, but in some cases actually makes me desire them! I have CHAD — Compulsive Horticultural Acquisitional Disorder. I’ve got it bad!

Working in my garden, I have no less than 100% chance of something, usually a big hairy spider, freaking out after I’ve inadvertantly moved his hiding leaf or something. If not a hairy spider than a beetle of ominous posture, a centipede or a nasty white pinchy grub. Now, this isn’t something that I’ve come to love. But I swear to you that five years ago I would have never considered rustling my hands through dead leaves to uncover something so (at the time) menial and nondeserving of risk as a crocus. I can’t say that I’m exactly fearless when it comes to bugs now, but unless the little bastard is actually crawling on me or jumping at me, I don’t even bother to scream. I give an involuntary peep, scoop it up with my spade, pitch it into the woods and just move on. If it’s a cute bug, such as a ladybug or butterfly, or even a praying mantis I might even talk to it. (In the bug world, cuteness saves).

Dirt, on the other hand…Let’s just say I must have found my inner child when it comes to dirt. Some mood or presence, youthful and carefree and delighted, sets upon me when I get going in the garden. I get snips of memories, like film clips, from when I was a very young child. I remember lying on my stomach on the fresh green grass and watching all the little life move around in its own tiny ecosystem. I was too entranced with discovery –how things felt, how they grew, how they moved in the breeze outdoors — to care about dirt or grass stains or bugs touching me. I have a renewed love for the feel of the moist soil in my hands, my hair, dampening my knees and socks, streaking my face. I love the smell of the dirt, the plant roots, the cuttings, and the mulch.

And the plants themselves – I’m devoted to them all. I await with baited breath the a posse ad esse of a ripe tomato from the seed I planted. I love finding plants left for dead behind healthier ones at the Home Depot and being victorious the following season when they burst back into life. I am fond of every plant I own to a ridiculous point. Some have names. I mourn for plants that don’t make it. I collect seeds and cuttings from gardens of anyone who will let me. I agonize over Japanese beetles and lily beetles and ground bees that set up their little tunnels in my annual bed. I fret pitifully on a solution to the “puppy problem.” There is nowhere in my yard, currently, that the puppies can be and not dig into, chew up, or pee on something that I prize. (This will be my Garden Challenge 2006).

Anyway, I welcome this time of year like I’d welcome a bottle of lithium after a six month bipolar spree. Spring and summer’s opportunities to play in the dirt like a child and play god with the life in my garden are like hall passes from heaven. Every April, freedom is mine, at least for a few months. Depression cannot break through my armor of garden soil and washes down the drain with the dirt when I at last get into a hot shower. My old friend, mania, nips my heels but I am too tired from gardening to play with her, so she eventually moves on, pouting and swearing she’ll be back (yeah, whatever!). I am busy getting my fill of spring and summer and dirt and plants and inner peace and childish happiness, so that when November comes and kills it all, I won’t be too devastated. I know it can’t last forever, so I will be a dirty girl while I can!

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
– Robert Frost


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