All I want is to be outside.
I want to cut the grass and prune the bushes and dig up the ugly ground cover I planted last year that is brown and straggly and taking over the world. I want to rake up the dead leaves and chop down dead bushes and cut back the hydrangeas and plant coreopses and turn on the hose and revel in this most welcome late-blooming, finally burgeoning, amazingly gorgeous spring.
A half-hour. One hour at the most. Then I’ll come in and do all I have to do. I’ll rake just one flower bed. I’ll pull just a few weeds.
I’ll be finished by nine. It won’t even make a dent in my day.
But nine comes and then it’s ten and the sun is bright and warm on my back and the birds are singing and the ground smells sweet and there’s a hint of lilac in the air, and the yard is looking if not good at least better. And if I do just a little more, if I work just a little longer, I am sure it will look great.
And that’s how it goes. I do one thing and it leads to another. At noon, I stop for lunch, pop a few ibuprofen, then head back in the yard.
It’s only when I can’t get the lawnmower to start that I call it a day. But I don’t really quit. Inside, I go online and look up flowering ground covers that are not ugly (Hardy aster? Sweet William Indian carpet? Lily of the valley?), research the Japanese maple (I fell in love with one but am not sure it would like my yard). Then I Google “lawnmower that won’t start.”
This happens every spring, not just that the lawnmower won’t start. (It never does, never mind that this one’s new and has an electric starter.) What is just as predictable is that every spring, no matter how I swear I won’t, I get obsessed with the outside.
I wake up, head for the yard, and forget to come in. I tell myself I will do just a little every day. I will take it slow. I will pace myself. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with everything? Slow and steady wins the race?
But how can you pace yourself when you know that in a blink, in a day or a week, all that is dandelion yellow right now, all the sprightly daffodils and great sprawls of forsythias everywhere you look, will be unspectacular and basic green? How can you turn your back on all the perfectly shaped looks-as-if-they’ve-been-drawn-by-children pear trees, lacy white now, when you know that they, too, will be indistinguishable from every other green thing way too soon, the phloxes and azaleas fleeting, the crocuses and hyacinths already passed.
After a long, cold, gray, endless winter, there is suddenly all this color and bounty right now.
But only for now.
Which is why all I want to do is watch it. Because I don’t want to miss it. Because it’s Broadway with house seats. Because it’s Disney’s 3 o’clock parade.
My friends e-mail pictures of their gardens. Maureen sends photos of tulips in bloom. Anne texts shots of ceramic pots she’s filled with daisies and heliotropes and asters. David posts photos of his garden on Facebook.
We’re all celebrating the season.Come August, I know I will be complaining about “having to” cut the grass and “having to” weed and “having to” mow the lawn.
But for now it’s all good. So bring on the mulch, hand me the rake, and pass me the clippers. I’m where I want to be.