I ventured out, to dig and rip, to shred and uproot, to remember what hot earth feels like on the hands. Bending myself, reshaping an out-of-control garden bed, I emerge only partially.
The sickly sweet scent of Nepeta (Catmint) sticks to me – it’s most excellent in its spread – few if any weeds grow beneath its full skirts – and it’s a deer and pest deterent – such a bonus. And the bees thrill to it when it blooms. But now, on the eve of the changing seasons, it needs upkeep.
I discover there are too many plants, too close together, which lends itself to a wildness during summer’s height, but it all falls into disrespect now.
The few Monarda (Bee Balm) are lost in it, and to the onslaught of weeds further along the bed – the area where a ribbon snake is still staking a claim. As for the thicker, checkerboard garden snake? I haven’t gotten to the end yet, so it’s yet to be re-discovered. Truthfully, it sends me along the creepy crawlies’ edge.
But I spade on, slowly, laying paving slabs and rebuilding a cedar-post fence, to corner off a section where nothing but moss grows – and to keep the dogs out – away from what I hope will eventually be a salvageable small garden.
It’s the only thing that isn’t ramshackle, even as it is out of bounds. I will ache and pain later for it, but in the moment, oddly enough, I move and kneel and dip and lug without issue. For a few hours, as the sun warms me and flushes my face, I feel almost normal, slightly human again – not just a pile of old and abused bones and injuries – and I am hopeful, filled with wonder and interest – and this is worthy of a smile – lasting one.