When you're away from home for any length of time, the garden is bound to need some attention when you get back. Because we spent the summer in England, the yard needed some tender loving care when we returned. We're lucky that there's no grass to cut, but there are weeds to keep down, shrubs to trim, and trees to cut back.
If you get the chance to watch landscaping crews go to town at Sun City Grand, it's worth a watch.
About half a dozen young, muscular men hop out of a truck with saws, trimmers, spades, rakes, blowers, and other specialty landscaping tools. They're like a swarm of locusts and kick up dust all over the land. It's like the Tasmanian Devil descends to the garden.
We used to have a gardener who came by every two to three months to keep the foliage at bay, but he was not very honest, and he didn't follow instructions very well. I told him not to come back.
Sometimes it sounds like Silverstone or the Indy 500 outside your window at about 7:30 in the morning. Saws are revving, blowers blowing, and orders shouted over the din in a language I don't fully understand.
About an hour later, trees have lost limbs, bushes have been transformed into topiaries, and the flurry of leaves created is scooped up into the waiting truck bed. Then, the crew loads up like keystone cops they're off on their next adventures.
As for me, I thought, how hard could it be. It just takes a bit of time and stick-to-it-iveness. I haven't got the spry muscles of a young man anymore, but I can get out there, putter, and do a bit at a time.
It feels good to be outside in the sunshine laboring a bit. While I'm at it, I get the feeling that I'm getting a pretty good workout. It feels good to bend, reach, stretch, and downright muscle some things around. I can feel old sinews stretch and muscles getting a good workout.
The other day after a reasonable turn in the garden, I came in to get a drink and said to Andrea, "You know gardening can be a great workout, getting the old muscles working. It feels pretty good."
The look on her face was precious. One side of her mouth turned up, the other side of her mouth turned down, and a slight frown moved in between her eyes. She said, "Ooooohhhh ... Could we really call it a workout?"
Many things crossed my mind at that time. Not all of the comments that crossed my mind are suitable for a civilized audience. I kept them to myself.
Sure, it's not like pumping iron or an 80-mile bike ride, but it does get you to use muscles you don't often even twitch when you achieve the kind and delicate age I now inhabit. Hell, I can get a pretty decent muscle twinge emptying the dishwasher or taking out the garbage.
It's my opinion that using muscles leads to a better condition, which leads to better health. It's a simple formula. Every little bit helps!
I suppose if my gardening were constant and less sporadic than it is, it would be better for me. But, when I do it, I feel good about myself.
You'd think doing that kind of stuff would make you feel better afterward, too. But, no, it doesn't. Those sinews stretched become tight as an archers bow, they cramp, and twitch, and require some TLC of their own.
Not only that, because plants here fight back (here in the desert they've got spikes and thorns of Biblical proportions), there comes the ritual inspection of extremities, and the application of bandages occurs. We stop offending rivulets of blood leaking from my body before my scarred creaky corpus is allowed to settle delectably between the clean sheets.
Andrea said she had a similar gardening/workout conversation with her college friend Tony. After telling her about what a good workout he had in the garden. Apparently, Tony got the same, "Ooooohhhh ... Could we really call it a workout?" conversation with her.
I said, "Andrea, you're horrible. You can't stop yourself, can you?"
She reluctantly agreed.
Tony, my friend, I'm sorry, I can only apologize.
Until next week, I wish you peace.