Monday, March 29, 2004

Recovering A Lost Garden

For 45 minutes Saturday and then today after work in the warm clear sunlight I've been raking, down to the cool black dirt, there across the street where in the Fall Chuck mowed the old reeds down, pausing only to chug pink lemon Gatorade, and wave as this season's new-chosen varsity teams jog their last heavyfoot mile past.

We were hoping for grass, though the big oak's shadow sundials across the whole plot over the course of the day.

What we found was a garden.

Under the old leaf-fall Spring's surprises crowd the earth with a vengance after their frozen slumber. The first few daffodils have just begun poking through last year's leaves in clumps for half the yard length; that, and something not quite daffodils which we unearthed near the treeline perimeter. The shoots grow in clumps three or four feet out from that line, straight and yellow-tipped; their bright colors make them easy to avoid but they slip through the rake tines if you miss a few. There's something green and vinelike growing new leaves in so thick a cover, it didn't matter to lose so many to the rake.

The leaves are heavy, though dry, but the rakefulls gathered acorn weight as I pulled a winter's remainders across the field towards a patch of tall spiny overgrowth we've arbitrarily decided to treat as the other side of the garden. Where the original garden ended and began we cannot say; not even Pam, who's lived here the longest, remembers who planted it, or when, or how long it lasted. The edges we've defined will be big enough, and hold our three-plus-dog-and-cat safe, far enough from the road, and with room to spare.

Near the end Darcie and the baby came home with groceries, and left me with the baby while she went to cook the couscous. Raking became precarious with the baby always underfoot, but we unearthed a blue plastic sand shovel half her height for her to help; she spent the next ten babbling about her good work, and the tunnels she was making in the leaves. By the time her mother called out the window for us to come in, the shadows growing, the sunset gold and red against the hills, I barely had the energy to carry her the two flights up.

Looking out the window in the pale dark light, at the patch where last year reclaimed wilderness spread, I can see the mulch spaces, the swingset, the tire swing on the oak's lowest limb, in the mind's eye ready to take shape. I'm halfway done, but despite a half-moon darkness means another shift will have to wait, until tomorrow or the next day. My fingernails are grubby and my shoulder aches, but it's a good ache, like a runner's high. Who knew finding a garden under all that mess would be so rewarding, and so long before the flowers bloomed?

posted by boyhowdy | 7:21 PM |

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