Generally speaking, I love the outdoors. Warm summer temperatures make me want to ride a bike, plant flowers, go for evening “Howdy, Neighbor” walks to wave at all the people we haven’t seen since last summer, and spend long, lazy days in the sun with a fat book.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t appear to reciprocate my feelings. In fact, the argument could be made that somewhere along the line, I must have pissed her off. Maybe it was the baby mongoose I accidentally ran over in 1979 (In my defense, he ran back across the street a second time). Or possibly the bounteous pear tree I dropped a 12-foot ladder on while picking fruit one summer as a teenager, splitting in perfectly in two, effectively assuring it would never again bear fruit.
Whatever her reasons, Mother has obviously determined that I was put on this earth for her personal amusement, and she mocks me at every turn.
By now, at 57, the evidence is irrefutable.
– One gorgeous day, I decided to do some weeding in our yard. Struggling valiantly, but unsuccessfully, to uproot a dying shrub with roots that apparently crossed three states, I finally shouted, “Game on, Mama,” and anchored my foot against the house. Using my full, not-inconsiderable body weight, I gave the ugly little ball of foliage a HEAVE-HO yank. Sweaty and triumphant, I was also sprawled on my back like an overturned beetle, showered with a dump truck-size pile of dirt and a truly disturbing variety of underground creepy crawlers exploring parts of me Hubs hasn’t seen in weeks. I’m not actually sure who won that one.
– Our previous home had seven large fir trees in the front yard that created a cool, shaded park-like area. But the branches often grew long and droopy enough to hit your head when you walked under them, necessitating annual trimming. One year, I was having a blast whacking and snipping, rocking to my iPod, but it seemed impossible to get them even. Trimmed one branch, and another drooped down in its place. Trimmed that one, and both branches immediately bounced back up, leaving a large hole to the sky. Someone was messing with me.
By the time Mother Nature and I achieved mutual symmetry, four hours later, our lush tree grove had gone from “majestic” to “breezy,” with 40 years worth of old growth lying on the ground. No amount of explaining ever got Hubs to buy that it was Mother Nature’s fault, but I know it was her.
– Last spring, Hubs had spent weeks chasing a mole around our yard, trying to catch the little rodent before he and his home boys dug up the Lost City of Atlantis under our house. One day I spotted a leaf blower in the driveway. Hmmm. I stuffed the blower down the mole hole and fired it up, planning to blow the little hamster into the sky. Ten seconds later, I was completely covered with back-blow dirt and mud, and I swear I could hear the entire mole population cheering for the home team. Was that really necessary, Mother?
– One year, as fall turned to winter, Hubs announced that it was time to pull up the flowers. He was thinking about a weekend project for himself, but I thought I’d surprise him. While he was at work, I spent the entire day in OCD overdrive, heaving, hoeing, and digging up every last petal, stem, leaf, and root system from the hard-packed dirt in every garden around our house, piling it all into a large heap in the driveway.
When he pulled in that evening, I ran out with a proud smile, expectantly awaiting his enthusiastic and grateful response, but he was yelling, “OMG, woman, you even tore up the perennials?!?” “The perennial what?” I asked, sensing he wasn’t quite as thrilled as I’d anticipated. “Perennails are the flowers that come up every summer without replanting” he shot back, waving his arms. “Oh,” I said, looking over at the soggy pile in the driveway. “That may be true in theory, but these…well, probably not so much.”
By the way Hubs carried on, you’d think I’d accidentally shot his dog. It seems to me that Mama Nature could have sent out some kind of cosmic “Nope, Not These” sign for gardening novices at any point during the day, but apparently she’s not a team player.
– As you may have guessed, Hubs is usually in charge of the yard and the landscaping. He loves it, and is extremely picky about how the grass and the flowers are cared for. One sunny weekend, I offered to help him water the four huge hanging flower pots in the front of the house. He gave me only slightly condescending, specific instructions on how to use the hose wand, lightly spraying the centers until water streamed out the bottom holes.
I quickly discovered that even with the attachment, when you’re barely 5’3″, those baskets are difficult to reach. But if I stood directly underneath, on my tip-toes, I could reach the center of the pot. It would seem I didn’t think that one through. Three minutes later, as water began streaming out of the bottom of the pot, I was taking a Miracle Grow-and-dirt shower. Hubs was doubled over with laughter as he looked up towards the sky and said, “BOOM. And that’s how it’s done, Mother Nature.” Again, Mama? Seriously??
– Recently, in anticipation of warm summer evenings, sharing a fabulous bottle of Cabernet with Hubs on the deck of my favorite restaurant, I shot my paycheck on a rockin’ little black dress and wildly overpriced strappy sandals. I came home to find a large metal fishing boat in the driveway. With two poles. Apparently in all those chats about how we planned to spend our summer weekends together, one of us wasn’t paying attention. Hubs says I’m going to be the best-dressed woman on the river.
And so begins another summer with Hubs, me, and Mother Nature.
I can already hear the fish laughing.