It was beautiful today. Sunny with a cool breeze, wind chimes making happy tinkles and low traffic because it is Sunday. It's so pre-summer and lovely, it is uncanny. It's that time of year when the camellia bush is budding out and the lawn is lush green. It was sadly the perfect opportunity for some back-breaking pruning, instead of porch lounging.
My stepdad came with his power saw. I directed him to about 10 shrubs and volunteer trees which all needed a severe hack job. We had a windstorm here in 2002 and after my back yard was cleared of blown over trees, the old Hawthorn's roots exploded through the turf with seedlings as well as blew spores (seeds? pods?) all over. Where one tree stood, a thousand replaced it. Then on the South, my windows were obliterated from natural light by a monster rhododendron, two arborvitaes and one nearly dead snowball bush.
I don't care if it's the wrong time of year to prune—sorry botanical engineers and Martha Stewart gardeners—there was a house in here somewhere and we had to mow the forest to find it.
I have scratches on my arms from dragging brush to the burn pile. I have sunburn but it's not too bad. There is now 200 percent more light coming into my house. It was sad to saw the snowball bush off waist high—no blooms this summer—but it was diseased and more than half dead. It will revive next year. I know, because my grandma's survived the same treatment.
The annoyance of the day was the neighbor kids and their dog. It just seems so white-trash to have kids gawking while we worked and sweated, cussed and guzzled water. (Can't they play ball or leapfrog or something? Dunk their heads in 5-gallon buckets?) They just stood there, across the driveway, and stared...like they were waiting for us to discover gold or oil or their last year's Frisbee.
When I was a kid, I climbed a tree and hid myself while staring at the neighbors. Of course, this was the only way I could see them across their pasture. Or, I peaked through the drapes if a stranger was outside talking to my dad. Or, I climbed on top of the alfalfa bales in the barn if I needed to see into the distance. There was the thrill of subterfuge and the hope of discovering secrets while I remained secret myself.
I didn't go out in plain sight and crane my neck for every inch of tree limb to come around the corner, nor did I strain my ears to hear every snapping twig like these two little kids do. Watching someone break their back doing yard work just wouldn't have been very interesting, you know?
And there's the part about being watched when working, feeling some pressure, and then hurting yourself! It wasn't long and I twisted my ankle, but since I wear Dansko clogs there was the marvelous popping straight back up that the rigid footbed did with my foot. Then, I stabbed my daughter twice with the end of a thorny branch and she hated me for 15 minutes.
These neighbor kids have a big screen TV with cable; we don't. Their mom takes them to town every five minutes for treats and toys; we avoid town. We go to town annually or maybe weekly if we have to. I can't figure out why we are so interesting to them when all I want to do is get away from their constant staring and chirpy voices at my elbow, "look what I have," and "my mom said," and "my dog is." Maybe I have gone from being a friendly country girl to a citified snob and never knew it. Maybe I just don't want any neighbors. Growing up in the country has that advantage—no near neighbors. I must be homesick, or overdoing the crankiness, or maybe I am catching anti-socialism.
Anyway, the brush is on the pile and it's nearly 10 feet high and at least 3 yards in diameter. It will dry out a little then we will torch it. Hopefully, the nice weather will hold and we can do a fun white trash activity: roast hot dogs and marshmallows in our own back yard.