Saturday, May 21, 2011

All the world's a backyard...and it's full of weeds and mud

I was digging my nails into the soil with brutal determination, clawing at the thatched Bermuda grass to get at the weed stubs while my kids made a splash mud pad beneath the slide with the hose. I only turned to growl at them on every third or fourth weed I pulled, angry that they had yet again turned my yard work into messy, muddy happy hour.

My kids weren't really to blame for my bad mood, to be fair. They had only exacerbated it with their shenanigans. No, my bad mood was directed at the world at large. I was feeling bad about my fellow human beings, which people have the right to do with temporary abandon now and then. Just the day before, you see, I had read the news.

Then right after, I had read celebrity news. That's a little like wandering the sewers for pleasure, grinning like an idiot, sipping on a martini and smoking a fat cheap cigar. In the end, it all just reeks, you're definitely going to feel a little sick afterwards, and you'll never quite feel like you've cleaned off the filth.

So you can see how the pulling of the weeds became an analogy for my worldview. My yard, you see, is rife with weeds. They're choking out the grass and have long since gone to seed. I only managed this Spring to eradicate them from my plant borders. And I comforted myself as I campaigned against them in the wider yard that I was at least aerating my yard with my dogged labor.

Wish I could aerate the world sometimes.

As for my kids' labor of love, the mud bath, it was mostly my eldest son's doing. I should have known better than to take him up on his offer to water the ground, so I could pull the weeds more easily. The ground didn't get watered all that much. The concrete patio did, the slide did, and I did, but the place where I was actually laboring on two-foot tall weeds - not so much. Kids and a hose...well, that's bound to mean trouble. It means there will be running and screaming and terrorizing of siblings, followed by loads of mud, then the removal of caked shoes and browned socks so that bare feet can squelch in freshly dug holes in the yard. Everyone will end up soaked and grimy, and the baby will get in the midst of it all, mud plastered up to the knees on his overalls, his blue eyes wide at the promising prospect of this newly discovered joy.

I was in a foul temper, shouting at the kids to stop their mud slinging, when Matthew came home. I didn't rise from my weed-pulling to give him the kiss he deserved, so he retreated back inside to change out of his work clothes, only calling through the bathroom window, "So what's for supper?"

Supper-schmupper. I hate supper.

I paused, draping a muddy hand over my knee, and called out boldly, "Okay, I'm not going to hide it anymore - I hate making supper. After all that happens during the day..."

I trailed off, but Matthew already had his response ready.

"So when did you ever try to hide it?" he asked with a laugh.

"I've tried before," I answered grumpily. "I've made some good meals..."

I couldn't remember any examples off-hand, but I knew it was true. There had been a few solid meals here and there that didn't involve plopping all manner of stuff out of a can, forking salad out of a bag or shaking cheese and noodles from a box. But, really, people need to understand a fundamental truth for some of us humans - making a meal at the end of the day, it's like Purgatory after a hard life. A messy life where little leprechauns, cute as hell, follow you around and dump just picked-up toys out of the cupboard, unroll miles of paper towels in order to dance on them, dump their lunch on the floor with a what-you-gonna-do-about-it nonchalance, and spill gallons of milk and juice every day.

"I'll start supper," said Matthew, my hero. "I don't mind."

And, after all, why should he? I was pulling weeds. I haul out trash, too, and handle recycling - both typical "man duties". Hey, I prefer doing them myself; I'm a liberated woman (don't know exactly from what...), and I'm only trying to liberate Matthew as well, so that we can live in peace and harmony like a retro Coca-Cola commercial.

Besides, I still had more weeds to wrest from the yard and some little leprechauns to haul out of the mud and bathe. In my way, I was about to make the world a slightly better place. I just hoped there would be a good meal waiting for me when I was done.


  1. I wish that I could write like you. Brilliant.

  2. Oh, Papa...I wish I could write like you! I wish I could even stumble upon the plot-developing skills that you seem to come by so easily. I was telling Matthew last night that I would love to write Mystery short stories, but I'd probably have to beg for some ideas from you, because I just can't think up the story. That's just trouble when you can't even think up a skeleton of a plot on your own.

    So we're even. And I love you. But we should co-write a story together some day. I'd love that.


I love your comments!