My grandparents lived on a very large wooded lot right in the middle of town. It was at the top of a hill and much of it was a fairly steep grade, and over the years Granddad had built terraced paths throughout the property, linking wooded gardens, picnic grounds, a horseshoe court, a rope swing, even the remains of tree-houses built for my uncle and mother when they were little.
It was a magical place, words can't really describe it. As did everyone else in my family who grew up anywhere between 1932 and 1998, I spent a majority of my childhood roaming the paths, entertaining myself in this wooded wonderland.
Upkeep was constant: although both became increasingly crippled by arthritis, Granddad spent every waking hour of his retirement maintaining, cleaning, clearing, manicuring, and tinkering...
and Granny's passion for gardening was apparent in the details.
When we grandkids were given chores to do to help out, they were often made into some kind of game. One of my favorites was especially for the littler kids: the fir-cone-Easter-egg-hunt. Under 100 or so large fir trees, the paths could have easily become littered with cones - but not Granny and Granddad's paths. Granny would send me outside with a big brown paper grocery bag, and would give me a shiny penny for every cone I picked up from the paths. There was no cheating and reaching off-path to get a little extra cash, the challenge was to count just how many were on the actual path.
Weekend before last the temperature rose into the 70s for the first time around here since mid-September, and I was finally (sort of) caught up enough with work to take a couple days off and tend to my own little yard.
I started Saturday by pulling weeds from the flowerbeds,
but ended up spending most of the day reclaiming one whole side of the backyard from the ivy that annually threatens to overtake us all ("Feed me!" ). A really lousy job, clearing ivy. I'm sure you already know this, but I had to say it again. Really, really lousy.
Molly thought she was helping me with all my digging. Um, we'll discuss that another day.
To entertain myself while doing my own digging, pulling, and trimming, I played the fir-cone-Easter-egg-hunt game. All day long I counted every single cone I picked up from the grass and from the mess of ivy that had once been (and soon will soon return to) grass. There was no cheating and reaching into flowerbeds, the challenge was to count just how many were in the actual lawn-area.
Keeping count became a Zen thing, and although sweaty, aching, and covered head to toe in bugs and dirt ... I quite enjoyed the day. Although I get no shiny pennies for those 4 garbage cans full of ivy, I managed to collect 217 fir cones ... not too bad for a day's work.