Last week at the peaceful hour of 7:00 a.m., I met a friend at Beulah Berries, a popular, local ten-acre blueberry farm close to the Alabama border. The berries were heavy on the bushes, rows and rows of several different varieties, delicious and plump. I wasn’t the first person to arrive at the field. The parking lot was starting to fill.
My friend and I were each given a yellow, gallon bucket which was attached around our waists with a bungee cord, a great idea for keeping hands free for berry picking. At 9:00 a.m. and two gallons later, it was starting to get hot, the parking lot was full, mothers with screaming children were arriving and the thrill of the first season’s blueberry picking experience had worn off me.
As I got into my Subaru and cranked up the air conditioner, I thought about what else was on my agenda for the day. My problem is never, what, oh what, shall I do with my time. My problem is that my list of things to do could never be finished in a week, let alone a day. I reminded myself that each big job starts with a series of little jobs.
After training the dogs and allowing them to run in the back yard, I decided to mow one-third of the two acre yard. It was hot and muggy but this is Florida after all, so there is no excuse to put off mowing the green stuff, which is part weeds and part St Augustine grass. If I could take a spray can and paint the two acres green I would. If I could buy artificial turf and have it installed for a decent price I would. It isn’t lawn mowing itself I dislike. I hate buying gas, lugging the stinky container over to the mower, pouring the gas from the big container into the tiny gas tank hole, never failing to leak gas onto my hands. The mower always starts about the third pull, the moment I curse and hope the neighbors don’t hear me. Mowing itself is easy.
I noticed that the little underground creatures have designed an intricate, bumpy, tunnel system under my lawn, their own version of a Disney World ride. Three Border Collies reside in the back yard, yet no underground creatures are ever found, hurt or even investigated. Maybe the dogs man the fee booth for the tunnel ride?
That portion of the lawn was finished. I looked around. Maybe “finished” isn’t the correct word. There was still trimming, edging, and raking to do. But it was so hot my clothes were sticking to me. I let the dogs outside to inspect my work. They left some droppings for me to pick up later, another never-ending job.
From there I did the laundry, cleaned the house and gave myself a treat. I sat in the sunroom to read Jon Katz’ The Second Chance Dog. Once again I couldn’t help crying while reading one of his books. Second Chance Dog is sweet and sad and memorable and positive. But there were chores to do and daylight burning so I trudged back outside to clean the dog training building, the never-ending battle to vacuum every stray piece of dog hair that falls to the floor. I think the building was clean for ten minutes until I let the canine crew back in to inspect my work. They shook and rolled and left more fur for me. I just can’t get ahead.
The following day I mowed the front yard, which is a sad area of weeds and grass, old and young trees and leftover stumps from hurricane-downed trees. Mindlessly walking back and forth in the hot sun I thought about my neighbor. Was he watching me? Recently Neighbor Jim jumped at my offer to buy my dad’s ancient Craftsman 42” inch double-deck ride-on mower. The Craftsman mower and I didn’t get along. It stranded me, wouldn’t start, made scary, explosive noises before it started and was (truth be known) too powerful for me. “Are you nuts?” He asked in his southern drawl. Did I really think I could mow two acres with a little Sear’s power mower: in the Florida heat, by hand, all summer? I told him I’m a tough Yankee and bet him I could, although I laughingly said that in August I might call in a professional when the humidity and heat were unbearable. Personally, I think the other neighbors are waiting to see how long I last before I sell the small mower and simply rent-a-man to mow the homestead. But no, it won’t happen. I’m too cheap and too stubborn. I’ll show them.
The top third, the front yard is easy. The top of the back yard that I finished the previous day is in the shade. No problem. However, on the third day I tackled the back third, which is a killer, with a sloping hill and mostly in direct sun. That area also needs hours of raking leaves and debris, trimming the weeds along the fence edge and removing all the mess. By the end of the week the two acres were mowed but not raked or trimmed.
Reminding myself that I’m in my sixties and not young and stupid, I took the next four days off to wash the dogs, read another book, train the dogs and live like a person would if they were in a condominium, oblivious to the yard. But outside the grass grew back quickly, the car needs a wash and wax, the old garage needs to be cleaned out and the rugs inside the house need to be shampooed, to name a few chores.
A friend nicely suggested the other day that I get out and do some walking for exercise. For once I didn’t open my big mouth and make a rude statement. Friends are cherished and she meant well. But I’m still choking. Eh, when, would I have the time to walk?