Sow There! Tackling neglected tasks, one mound at a time. May 8, 2020

Moving a pile of mulch is a “beast” of a task. (Heather Hacking — Contributed)

May 8, 2020 

Is that light? At the end of the tunnel? Will there be a day, maybe someday soon, when men can get haircuts and I’ll have incentive to shave my legs?

Part of my daily routine is to listen to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s noon briefing on the radio. On many days, I listen to the statistics and wish I had watched another episode of “Outlander.” Yet, it’s important to be informed. Sometimes our state leader will tease us, and hint there is a fragment of hope. “There will be another update” on Thursday or next week, or next month, he’ll say, leading me to think he has a team doing math in a dark room near the capitol.

Most recently, he said if this and that and another thing happens, we might be able to start thinking about possibly returning to some tiny fragment of life as we once knew it. We just need to hang in there a bit longer, wear masks in public, wash our hands, keep our hands off each other and try not to breathe, and then maybe …

Hurray.

I needed that tiniest bit of hope because living life in limbo has really gotten on my nerves.

This week my friend Joe stopped by for a long-overdue chat. He stood a safe distance away while I crawled around on my hands and knees, elbow-deep in wood mulch.

The wood chips have sat in a mound for about a year. It was that long ago that I chased down the tree-trimming crew and asked if they could dump the mulch in my yard instead of driving the heap to the compost facility north of town.

I had good intentions that the mound would smother the unsightly Bermuda grass. One day I moved the mulch around, creating a path around the raised bed. That day, long ago, I found something more interesting to do.

When Joe visited, he kept me entertained and I needed something to do with my hands. I dug down into the partially-composted material and was aghast that the Bermuda grass was not only alive, it was thriving. This plant is as tenacious as the deepest of sea creatures, faded from lack of sunlight yet still as difficult to pull as a sailor’s knot.

I huffed and I puffed as splinters worked their way into my kneecaps. Good thing Joe had some stories to tell, because he kept me from going inside and watching another episode of “Outlander.”

“I think I know what you’ll write about in your garden column this week,” he joked as he sipped on some chilled water.

“Just make sure you leave out all those four-letter words,” he advised.

Just then, my friend LaDona rode through my alley on her bicycle.

“This is all your fault,” I said instead of a friendly greeting.

“When I saw the mulch in your yard I was inspired,” I said to LaDona, wiping the glean from my brow and spreading tiny fragment of mulch into my hairline. “You put the cardboard under your mulch, so I thought I would do the same. I’ve been here three hours and the mound hasn’t moved.”

LaDona agreed moving mulch is a beast of a job, and that’s why she had mulched her turf over a three-year period.

Catching up with Joe was great. Had it been another time, and not a pandemic, we probably would have scarfed down a burger at the Bear and not lingered as long. Plus, I accomplished a big job.

Also, the governor is right, and some day life returns to normal, I will no longer have the luxury of blaming my friends for inspiring me to work in my yard.

Tuesday, LaDona and I took a walk in our neighborhood. Now that I’ve moved a mound of mulch, I couldn’t help but notice many yards with neatly-strewn chips of wood and happy, drought-tolerant plants in strategic locations. As soon as I’m more comfortable visiting the local nurseries, I’ll be inspired to do some plant shopping.

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