Hey, I know it always seems like I’m complaining here, but what can I say? I am most often moved to write when I am irked about something, got some kind of stone in my shoe, and I think I am happier with the things I write when I am not.
If you took a survey of all the great writers and all their great writing, by and large I think you’d find most of it germinates from seeds of despair or disgruntlement.
Don’t be expecting Tolstoy or anything, but that brings me to today’s post:
Several years ago, Manfrengensen and I decided to renovate our yard. It was a huge expense, and despite what Manfrengensen will tell you, I fretted over every decision and dollar spent. In the end, it was one of the best things we ever did. I love the yard. Every day, I sit at the kitchen table eating my breakfast, looking at this:
Heaven knows I am a regretter of many decisions in this life, but renovating the yard is not one of them. I am not an avid gardener or any kind of gardening hobbyist. Every year I plant impatiens, joking that they are my signature flower, but really I plant them because of the low maintenance factor. I don’t have to dead-head them. I do some weed-pulling, but mostly I leave that to Matt, the Lawnmowerman.
But that doesn’t make me less invested in our yard. I love the yard. I love to see the kids out there, love to watch the growth of the shrubbery. I love the way the sun hits the whole thing for a brief period during the day and leaves it in the full shade of our house by three in the afternoon. In the summer that makes for good times under the sprinkler for the kids. I fret over the few brown spots in the grass, or worse that patch that looks like strawberries out near the front.
I love pretty much everything about our yard except this:
This is the vile weed that grows on my neighbor’s “fence.” I use the term “fence” loosely because this thing is not properly attached to the ground. It is really just two pre-fab fence pieces that he attached to the hairpin railing with plastic ties. For years the ties would break, and it would blow over any time a wind above 15 mph came along, so after the last hurricane blew through, he finally put those scrap wood blocks on my side of the railing, screwing through to the wooden fence on the other side. It’s ugly enough in the winter. But then the spring comes along and this weed starts creeping.
Every summer this weed drives me crazy. I have Matt trim it back as much as he can, but the thing grows like..well, a weed. And it’s very aggressive. Back by our garage, I had originally tried to cultivate a vinca ground cover, but this thing jumped off the fence, wrapped its roots around those and choked them off. I find the little leaves sprouting everywhere in my garden. I hate this thing.
This year, it’s way out of control, so I decided to say something to the neighbor. I finally caught up with him yesterday. I said, “What’s the deal with this weed on the fence?”
And he cocked his head and said in this kind of condescending tone, “You mean…the ivy?”
IVY??? Is he kidding me? Ivy is something you PURCHASE and plant and cultivate. It’s not something that spontaneously generates. Ivy doesn’t have little pink flowers. Ivy, at least the kind that looks nice, has shiny pentagonal leaves. This thing is a weed. It’s the kind of thing you see growing along the side of a highway.
So I said, “Yeah. Well whatever it is, it’s out of control.” I told him about the aggressive nature of the weed and how I don’t want it in my garden. He offered to trim it back, so we will see how that goes…
But seriously…Ivy? Who’s he kidding?
My tulips are losing their petals. I am not sure what to do now. Do I cut the tops off or leave them on? I know I need to leave the stem and leaves until they turn brown, but I’ve gotten conflicting advice about the stigma. Should I leave it or not?