Thursday, May 23, 2013

At work in the Gardens of Eden

There are a lot of reasons I look forward to returning to our home in Galva after being gone for an extended period. It's great to see all our friends, fun to hear the news, and nice to get back into a sort of hometown routine. Heck, we even arrived in time for high school graduation season, so I got a couple of pieces of my beloved sheet cake out of the deal. After spending our first midwest weekend at a joyful reunion with college friends in Iowa, we returned to a splendid week-long span of summery spring weather that was just right for the immediate task at hand:
Yard work.
Now, mind you, I like messing around our house and the lawn and flower beds that surround it. If I didn't, I would have probably torched the old place long ago, plowed up the grass, and planted a corn crop.
The problem is, I'm married to a person who approaches a little puttering around the yard with a level of enthusiasm and determination that rivals that of laid-back folks like the Mongol hordes or a colony of army ants. She is, in fact, more than willing to work from dawn until dark until the job is done. I, on the other hand, have noticed a slight dip in my enthusiasm level as the days have passed.
Day one: "Gee, I can't wait to get started."
Day two: "Boy, we sure are getting a lot done."
Day three: "Wow, there's more to do than I thought."
Day four: "Where did you put the aspirin?"
Day five: "Call an ambulance."
Time heals all wounds, though, and by Sunday, I was able to stand erect for periods of time and gamely toddle to a cake table without assistance.
And she's right to want to get things done, I know, especially when the weather can be fickle.  Besides being a tireless go-getter, she is also an equal opportunity gardener who never met a plant she didn't like. So besides raking, hoeing and digging holes for the new plants we place here and there, I often find myself helping to move the old ones to new spots around the yard, even when I'm not sure they're worth the trouble.
She: Let's move this one to the front yard.
Me: I don't think that's going to grow.
She: No, really, all it needs is a little more sun and space.
Me: No, really, that's a rock.
But truth be told, we're having a fine time in this Illinois springtime, because we really do like it around here this time of year.
We like the change in light, in color, and in temperature, as the balmy breezes of a new season softly surround us. We like how things get greener, and the subtle changes in the rolling fields around us as farmers prepare for another year of feeding the world. We ooh and aah as buds and blooms sprout; as flowers awaken from a long winter's sleep and dot yards and garden plots with bits and splashes of vibrant color.
We watch the children in the park across the street and the grandkids next door as they shout and run and play in a warm world of fun and sunshine.
And we like the things we do, because we like doing them together. And especially because we know that the work we do now will bring us great pleasure later as our gardens bloom and grow.
Gee, kind of a good metaphor for life itself.
The news about Max.
Since our return to Illinois, I have been asked about my furry, leg-nipping little fiend, er friend, so many times that I'm thinking about replacing my picture at the top of this column with one of him.  He was, in fact, waiting for us on the front porch, thus continuing with his uncanny ability to know when any member of the Sloan family is about to arrive home. He was glad to see us for a few days, though he continued to visit his alternate universe down the street at his cat-sitter Shannon's house. Now, with the beginning of a season filled with hot days and warm evenings, he has begun a tomcat lifestyle that finds him more than content to sleep all day, stay out all night, and eat everything he can get his paws on.
No sweat. We've dealt with this kind of thing before.
But back then, we called it teenagers.

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