Last April, my post 28 Months (HERE) described my rather tortured journey to home ownership and the feeling that last spring ushered in an end to “House Jail.” Little did I know it would be replaced by “Garden Jail”! It was only this month that I was paroled once again . . . and on the 3-year anniversary of starting this massive project.
This last year involved a life-and-death battle with weeds, and lawn trying to take back my new garden beds. I got volunteer help from grandchildren and church youth groups. We put over 300′ of lawn edging all around each bed since the walkways were grass. Then I upped the ante by putting commercial grade weed cloth down every walkway between the beds. This conquered much of the problem, but refugee grass kept escaping and invading my beds. Giant tufts of green peeked out from under squash, bean and potato plants, laughing in derision.
I refused to use weed killer. After all who poisons the very ground that feeds? So I pulled up handfuls of grass, hacked at invading turf with my trusty small shovel, mulched heavily and finally put weed cloth down all around the outside of the garden – all at a fearful cost of time and money. Just the clips alone to hold it in place were over $50. I bought a manual lawn mower with the romantic intention of combining exercise with saving money. It was easy to mow the small remaining 20’x20′ patch of grass in my back yard, but the front yard defeated me.
Since a real estate commission allowed me to install gravel in my front side yard, that eliminated one patch to mow. But even the remaining larger area proved to be too much. My charming Fiskars mower simply didn’t provide a clean cut. I had to go over the lawn 2-3 times to get it presentable and my hand trimmer, even with its long handle, was slow and painful to use. Finally, I made a deal with my wonderful lawn guy: He would mow and trim just the remaining front yard for half his former price, and I would manually mow the back.
By fall, harvesting my overgrown and somewhat neglected garden competed with managing one of the most stressful real estate transactions in my 14-year career. My clients were selling their home and buying a new one, two transactions due to close on the same day. They were much loved and admired friends plus great to work with, but their buyer was a nervous first-time homeowner who put us through our paces during a 7-week escrow and long inspection period.
Throughout all this, I had a garden only partly harvested, overrun with huge healthy plants, and once again I felt like the Miller’s daughter in Rumpelstiltskin facing an unexpected, biggest room of all to spin into gold. I had run out of volunteer options, so after a “light-bulb moment,” I hired some teenage girls which probably saved me from a heart attack! Together we harvested every bed, mulched and covered them with netting against high winds, covered a pile of free palettes and my AC unit with tarps, and even covered the area under the water faucet with extra gravel from my front side yard. Victory!
By the time both transactions closed on the same day in early November, I felt like seaweed washed up on the beach that had been repeatedly run over by a tank and pulverized. I was barely gasping for breath! But I could rest, restock my pantry with my new earnings, and look forward to a season of hibernation and reflection.
December is always a retreat from the hustle and bustle of life for me. This year doubly so. I have solid hope that 2018 will actually materialize as the year of liberation, since 2017 unexpectedly kept me in the path of struggle. The gift of this year was working with two wonderful families getting their homes sold for full value and forging new heart connections with both. That lit candles for me that will burn long after the pain and struggle is forgotten.
And isn’t that the promise of life in general and of Christianity specifically? No matter the trials we face in mortality, we have light and liberation always beckoning us forward: to new adventures, expanding horizons, and deeper joys.
May you all be blessed with a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!