I have been trying to be busy since school got out. As much as I want to just curl up with books all summer, that is a dark path that leads to loneliness, depression, and uselessness. I need a reason to roll out of bed or I may not leave it because I really enjoy sleeping and simultaneously hate myself when I give into that impulse. This weekend, we got really aggressive against the front yard, so I was busy and exhausted and I felt accomplished at the end of the day. If I just read all day, like I want to, then I neglect other useful things I could be doing, liking cleaning the house, doing laundry, or various other small yet important things that I have neither the time for the energy to do during school.
That mentality is how I ended up spending almost six hours playing with fire yesterday. If you’ve read my older posts, you’ll know that last January (2013), we took a chainsaw to our unruly backyard in what I had hoped would be the first of many weekends spent clearing out the overgrown mess. I severely underestimated the tenacity and sheer size of the project. We cut down a few of the smaller trees and cleared out a wall of vines that were making it impossible to see passed the end of the lawn, spending most of the day dragging debris into piles to be burned later.
It turned out to be much later. We had to wait for the green stuff to die so as to avoid smoking out the neighborhood. So in May, with wedding guests coming in July, we started on one of the giant piles of brush and branches. It took all afternoon, I think, but we made progress. Then it got busy and hot and wedding-crazy, so we put off finishing until things calmed down. What with the bad winter, cold weather being a major deterrent for me, plus school keeping me busy, a year went by. A whole freaking year.
The other brush pile is no longer a brush pile. The forest came out and claimed it, wrapping it up with more freaking sticker plants and evil, clinging vines that make everything take twice as freaking long. All the grass is dead under that pile, which was placed a good two feet from the wood line on our already limited lawn. There were trees growing in it and a long depression which might become a river when it rains. All that work last year and we managed to make our disastrous backyard WORSE. I mean, how is that even possible?
I got through half the pile, and it was a hard-fought half. My lower back and legs are killing me today. I almost gave up a number of times because I just didn’t see any progress. Or if I did, I just looked at the rest of the forest and the enormity of the task weighed me down. But I kept at it for a couple of reasons. I like playing with fire, as most caveman-descended people do. There’s something about the glow. It was still much more work than fun, but I can’t dismiss that little bit of fun. Mostly, I have a compulsive streak that makes me do things. Once I get started, it is difficult to stop. I really only stopped because Buddy got home.
I suppose you could call it a stubbornness, but it didn’t feel like that. It was like a snagged fingernail. The yard is a rough edge that I want to make smooth. When I was growing up, I compulsively chewed my nails. I didn’t do it out of anxiety. I wanted the edges to be smooth, but every time I tore at the edge it got worse. I chewed my nails to the quick, causing pain for later (even bleeding though that was rare). And I knew I shouldn’t, knew that it would hurt, but I did it anyway because I needed to fix it. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the solution was not fighting the impulse but having a nail file on me at all times. Now I have long, lovely nails, but if I don’t have a nail file it takes an unbelievable amount of willpower to leave a snagged nail alone.
So my backyard is a snagged nail and I don’t have a nail file, which in this case would mean Yard Crashers or the lottery. Even an old-fashioned weed whacker would be nice along with a large truck to haul away the debris before it ruins the lawn.
I’m going to get rid of that freaking pile if it kills me.
Or maybe I should just get a job.