We drove back from Maryland yesterday. 11 or so hours in the car - and came home to a yard that needed attention after three weeks' neglect.
So we weeded a little.
Today, wanting to connect with people I just left, I shopped places they would shop, bought organic foods and groovier snacks than usual, and then found myself at Home Depot buying plant stuff. Tree stuff, flower stuff. Vegetable stuff. Bug stuff. Dirt.
Which is not what I do. Traditionally, historically. In my heart of hearts, I imagine I am that person. I think of myself as a tender of living things, with fresh-grown veggies and flowers on the table. The reality is starker.
To be fair, this isn't only because I am too lazy to garden (though I am). We are in our first house - having rented for years. For ten of them we moved from place to place across three states. From newly-wed to graduate school to a prep school with housing. Then back again. Our first house, our seventh move.
But Mom gardens. And Grandma, Mia, Grampa and Gamps ... Grann and Nana. My sisters. I have it in me through association and family.
I found myself buying things - dirt and tomatoes. Citronella because I couldn't resist the nostalgia of the smell. Basil because I like to eat. Flowers, because our mailbox is surrounded by dry, brittle dirt.
I got home and realized I had no spade. This seemed unfathomable - this most basic of gardening tools. but then, I guess, why would I? I tried to fake it - digging holes with my hands, with the hands of my littles, with a sharp edger. But I finally relented, headed to the hardware store.
I bought spades and one of those big forks and a pokey thing for cutting weeds, and some sheers that don't really work. (And, because it's That kind of hardware store, some great-smelling organic handsoap for when it was all over.) My nails were black from my human spading efforts - so I (late) even bought gardening gloves.
Then I came home and dug. This time, with tools. I removed weeds, I dug dirt, I broke through roots, I laid down soil. I watered and fertilized and killed bugs. I pruned some (is this the right time of year) of the flowering plants the previous owners put in. I surveyed my efforts. I stretched, and sent the kids running down the street.
And it felt good to get my hands dirty. It felt good to watch the children dig holes, to dig them myself. To encourage life in my yard.
It felt good... to grow roots.