Diary of a Lesbian Housewyfe: Pro-“Grass”-Tination Blues


Pro-"Grass"-Tination BluesEvery year, we have a moment where the snow melts and the earth begins to smell again. Not in a bad way, simply that dirt smell we lose when the ground freezes. Just past Easter, the ski mountain closes and green grass miraculously takes the place of the snow. Crocuses show their dainty heads, then grape hyacinth in bunches of dazzling purple. Daffodils and then tulips pop up in shades of pink, red and yellow.

I am sitting on my front porch in a turquoise wicker rocker. The chair wraps around me and I lean into the firm cushion as a light breeze ruffles my womanly leg hair. On this warm and sunny day, the zephyr reveals my mountain location with its chilly touch. Aspens’ leaves rustle in the gentle wind. Poppies begin to bud under the pink canopy of the crabapple tree, and the lilacs begin their charge out of the gates. With their full unveiling next weekend, the air will take on the scent of Fruit Stripe gum (the grape flavor) when the lilacs’ odor melds with the smell of fresh run-off melting snow flowing down the many streams throughout Steamboat Springs.

Asiago, my golden kitty boy, leaps into the air, spinning like a circus performer in his attempt to catch a bee. He lands among the white puffy dandelion seedheads up to his belly in grass and I realize the awful truth.

I have to do something about my lawn.

In the past, I have been a dandy gardening housewyfe. I had a beautiful crop of veggies in Denver. I count farmers in my heritage, strong southern folk who grew their own food out of necessity. My mother spent many years creating vegetable beds out of lawns at each parsonage we inhabited. I can remember standing in one particularly scary patch she was attempting to reclaim, staring at a weed as big as me. It glowered down threateningly at my little five year old self. Mom yelled over without raising her head, “Go on! Pull it! It won’t bite.”

I stared at the weed and grasped it at the very tip-top of the stem, pulling with all of my might. I leaned back, and it leaned with me. The weed slipped through my grasp, sending me tumbling backwards onto my butt in the muddy soil. Its triumph was short-lived as my mother reached over and deftly pulled the thing from the dense Arkansas soil.

My hero!

You have to pull from the bottom.”

To her credit, she didn’t laugh in my presence. And I did eventually, kicking and screaming, learn how to weed.

I still hate it. I think every gardener does.

I know, I know. Lesbian Law #26: I will grow all of my own vegetables throughout every season possible, using only organic methods, in appreciation and emulation of Mother Earth.

That means weeding.

Sigh.

There is one week in the springtime when my yard goes from beautiful to out-of-control. Unfortunately, this week always coincides with my desire to spend more time outside on my porch, watching the neighbors drive by and the pets frolic through my yard. My beautiful view of the front yard means that I can no longer deny it.

I have to do something about my lawn.

Many gardeners tell me that “the best defense is a good offense” meaning that I should start weeding when the weeds are tiny so I won’t have to work as hard. However, none of them have managed to teach me the difference between the weed seedlings and the actual plant seedlings. I mean really. They all look the same to me.

Is that racist? Or plantist? Or just specious?

I’m a liar. I can identify the dandelions. They stare at me, happily defiant, staking out their new territory with their little paratroopers. I sigh as I watch their seeds soar through the air, spreading the scourge to my neighbor’s lawn. There was a time, about ten years ago, when I made a pact with myself that I would not allow my dandelions to spread to other yards. Lesbian Law #25: Never impose on others unless your civil rights are in danger.

With the advent of the full-time job and, well, life I suppose, I have broken this pact many times over. Right now, my dandelions are puffing their way to world domination. I have so many; I’ve been investigating dandelion wine. At least I could get drunk, and then I wouldn’t care if the lawn needs weeding.

But I object to attending 12-step programs, so I guess that’s out.

Sigh.

I have to do something about my lawn.

The columbines are weaving their way through tall grass in the little garden lining my porch, sending out blooms amid stalks of tall grass. Bunches of strawberry leaves fluffily fill the same bed as their alien feelers invade my columbine bed. The entire porch garden is a war zone as I see dandelions sprout from the midst of the strawberry patch. Soon, I will be forced to arm myself with a hand spade, a small soil fork, and a dandelion digger; pulling on my purple suede gardening gloves and heading out to do battle.

The dandelions launch their offensive by digging in so deeply I can’t reach the base of their roots with my digger. I pull dandelions raggedly, leaving an inch or two of root behind, knowing that I’ll be forced to return in the coming months. The grass I grasp in mighty handfuls and end up digging and scratching with my fork until the soil releases its hold on the roots. They come up in clumps, and I now need to replace all the soil that I just threw away with the roots.

The dandelions, thistles, and some of the grass go into the garbage.

Yep, you heard me right: the trash can. Don’t dump your weeds in the compost pile if they have already formed their seedheads. Then they just proliferate throughout your garden everywhere you fertilize with your black gold. Compost is not something to be tainted with weeds. I get enough from the wind, rodents and birds to last me a lifetime. I don’t need any appearing due to my own insertion.

Sigh.

I’ve got to do something about my lawn.

I’ve created a list, as I do every year.

This year, I’m going to mow the lawn. Correction, this year, I’m going to get the neighbor kid to mow the lawn for $10 a week.

My half-barrel planter needs to be righted and filled with beautiful flowers.

The swing built by my grandfather needs to be moved into the front yard, and the porch transformed from a repository for snow shovels to the summer haven we adore. We spend four to six hours a day on this porch on our summertime weekends, and we need that retreat…soon.

The mint bucket needs to be weeded and renewed with more varieties. (As every good gardener knows, you must isolate your mint plants or they will take over the yard, invasive and fresh smelling little stinkers! Mine are in a wash tub that I’ve filled with dirt and dubbed “the mint bucket.” I’m fully prepared for mojitos. Except for the weeding.)

Having the front haven means the eviction of the weeds from the little garden lining the porch. Meant to highlight the columbine (state plant of Colorado!), our little patch is currently filled with any columbine who can overcome the giant stalks of grass and the encroachment of the nearby strawberry patch where the neighborhood dogs enjoy napping. Each year we attempt to thwart the dogs by installing cheap edging – which generally works – but last year the edging didn’t get pulled out, and ended up wrapped around the blades of the snowblower.

Oops.

I need to weed the front porch garden, the driveway garden, the edge of the sidewalk, and the small rock garden by the street. Then, I can start on the back yard. Speaking of which….

Clouds from the south are moving north, carrying the promise of an extra day of avoidance.

Today, though, I need to make sure that the neighbor boy won’t break his ankle in the grass-disguised hole in our backyard (he’d never come back!), so I make myself start the gardening season with a quick shovel of dirt. First, I have to find my gloves. This trek, by itself, could take all afternoon. I attempt to remember where I left them and, somehow, I manage to discover their hiding place in the loft.

Whooping with triumph, I bop my way down the steep stairway and perfectly fit them onto my chubby little fingers. The old caked mud makes it hard for me to close my hand, but shaping a few fists works out the kinks. Now for the shovel.

I exit the house back onto the front porch for the shovel, and flip-flop my way around the house to rediscover the location of the “danger hole.” Since I’m actually searching for the hole, I manage to find it by catching a toe. I limp around the side of the house in my unfortunate footwear and decide that I should use the old nasty compost left by the previous owner to fill the hole. Right now, the leaves of our lilac hedge shroud this particular pile, and a respectable number of weeds have sprouted out of its top despite the dense shadow. I begin my archaology and discover the lilac protects its own as the low hanging branches diminish each shovel full of dirt.

Flip-flop, flip-flop across the back lawn. Dump the meager load of dirt into the ever-deepening hole. Flip-flop back to do battle with the lilac for my soil. Fifteen minutes later, I’m finally done. I brush the dirt off the shovel and store it in the tall plastic storage shed on my back deck. I strip off the gloves and re-enter civilization. Whew. Almost didn’t make it back.

Kettle of water to the stove, fill my small teapot with leaves and soon I settle back with my warm cup of tea on the front porch. This is my favorite part of gardening. I think unusually favorably upon my ex-brother-in-law who, searching for a compliment for my lawn, said, “I like it. It’s….organic.”

He knows Lesbian Law #1: Never underestimate the power of a lesbian housewyfe.

I’ve got to do something about my lawn.

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Mojitos:

1 T fresh mint leaves, whole

1 oz. Light rum

1 oz. Freshly squeezed Lime juice

1 oz. Simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, heated to dissolve sugar and then cooled), or you can go traditional and use a tablespoon of superfine sugar.

Ice

Club Soda

There are tons of ways that people prepare this drink. Traditionally, you muddle (or smash) the mint and the sugar together with the lime juice. Add rum and ice and then fill the tall glass to the brim with your club soda. I make it a little easier by using simple syrup and simply bruising the leaves in the juice and syrup at the bottom of the glass with a long ice tea spoon for the first step.

At the end, everyone does the same thing – sip and relax on a hot afternoon.

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Written in June, 2006. My views on lawn maintenance haven’t changed much (although my sweetie did purchase a riding lawnmower for our generous new lawn in North Carolina). However, the weeds in Steamboat seem playful now after tugging a thick stemmed weed almost as big as me – my adult self – out of a plot that I’ve studiously ignored most of the summer.

If you are inspired to start your own garden, I was directed to this little guide from JenReviews.com. (FYI – She contacted me and asked if we could swap sharing links, so I’m hooking you up on her behalf.)

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