Monday, April 08, 2013

Tending to the back yard ~ My Column from Sunday's Paper

Since the storm last month, our back yard looks as if it has been strip-mined. In addition to losing enough trees to build an ark (which would have come in handy this rainy spring), our field lines on our septic tank went south.

Since the yard was already a wreck, it seemed like a perfect time to replace the lines and deal with the mess once everything settled down.

Our nephew Haven showed up on Good Friday with a miniature dragline and commenced digging trenches deep enough to bury a train.

When he left late Friday evening, my muscles ached, my muddy boots felt like anvils on my feet, and my ears were ringing from all the noise, but our bathrooms worked flawlessly.

The chickens have been freaked since the big blow, and all the commotion a few feet from their pen sent them careening off the chicken wire on all sides of the enclosure. 

I thought about calling the vet to see if she could prescribe some “Poultry Xanax.” 

Another idea that occurred to me was to have Jilda do some chicken yoga with them, but she’d been cooking for the workers all day, and I figured she’d take a dim view of the request. But they settled down after Haven hauled off the equipment.

Yesterday, the sun came out for a change, so I went outside in the afternoon and sat for a while on the back steps.

Looking at the mess and thinking about all that needs to be done was a little disheartening, but the road is long, and I have some time to get it back in shape. 

I wallowed for a moment but then I stood, dusted off the seat of my pants, and stepped to the shed to fetch my round-pointed shovel and rake.

I leaned the rake on a sweet-gum stump, and sunk the shovel into the loose clay, pitching scoops of earth into the low places left by the tracks of the digger.

Shoveling and raking can be back breaking work if you get in a hurry, but I took my time.

The sun felt warm on my back and after a few minutes that evil little voice in my head that kept chiding, “What a mess, this place will NEVER look good again,” fell silent. 

Soon I fell into a rhythm and got lost in the flow of work. All I could hear was a cawing crow off in the distance, and the “shump” of my shovel as it bit off chucks of dirt from the mountains of clay.

I love it when I get into the “flow,” because my mind slips into slow motion, and I lose track of time.

Sweat began to trickle down my brow and before I knew it, I heard the dogs barking to let me know that Jilda was home from work.

It will be a while before our back yard is suitable for entertaining, but I can live with that. 

The weather will warm up soon, and I’ll hire some young helping hands to get things ship shape again.

Before I know it we’ll be out back playing badminton and sipping mint juleps.


  1. With a little work here and there and a little help from others.... you backyard will be beautiful again.. I am glad to see you push the negative away... I'll be doing this once I start exercising :-D

  2. Wow- Sounds like a lot of work to do, Rick...but just keep pegging away at it. Some day it will be as lovely as it was before- xo Diana

  3. I for one would love to see chicken yoga with Jilda! Yay! Take care

  4. And I thought my husband had a tough Saturday digging out a hibiscus bush! I'll have to direct his eyes to your post. Hope you're not too tired and sore!

  5. You're drinking way to many of those mint juleps. lol

  6. You'd need a good soak in the hot tub with those mint juleps.

  7. I would join the yoga class too!

  8. That many trees. wow I hate it when wood goes to waste.

  9. Our yards have weathered some serious storms this year... clean up will take months. One of the roads I travel daily still has barely enough room for travel down with all the trees down, and still there's hanging broken trees above you as you pass.

    About time it gets cleaned up, we'll be looking at another brutal winter.


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