Monday, August 23, 2010

Good digs

August in Utah is out to kill: it bakes the earth in high 90s with full sun all day, every day, broken only by high winds and angry, stingy rainstorms. We had a doozy of a storm yesterday, complete with falling limbs and lots of trashcans and lawn furniture exchanged between neighbors. I was inside, trying to remind myself that getting nervous and worrying about my big pine trees squashing my house won't do anything to prevent said squashing. I spend some time looking out the windows at the tops of the trees blowing back and forth in cartoonishly wide swoops of their long piney branches. Then I turned up the radio and painted the closet, which is, by the way, the last thing that needed to happen in the re-done bedroom, besides the little nails being pounded into the baseboards to hold them into place, which is something Jason will do as soon as this inconvenient employment is over... honestly, doesn't this movie know that it's getting in the way of my home improvement? Oh, to be cursed with a boyfriend who is both artistic and handy... sigh. What more could I ask for?

This morning, the rain left the ground actually moist, cool, and perfect for digging. The temperature was also perfect -- at a high of 80 today, Utah has decided to give me some respite from the desert heat. Still, I started early: 7:30am found me with a shovel, starting in on a new track of dead lawn. After digging up the beds nearest the house and turning a strip along the sidewalk into a blueberry and tomato bed, I decided it was time to continue the garden patch along the flagstone walk to the drive.

There is nothing quite so much fun as digging in the dirt. I love digging up the old turf, especially - you cut the edges, wiggling the shovel under the turf from both sides, then slice it into manageable chunks, turning the patches of dead grass over to expose the root base, still full of good rich soil. The sun was still behind the neighbor's big tree when I got the point of raking the bottom of the turf to loosen the soil, shaking and shaking and thumping and shaking all the dirt out and tossing the dead clot of oldroots aside. Honestly, is there any happiness turning yucky old lawn into soft, silty earth, ready for planting with pretty things? But I get ahead of myself -- before I can plant, I started to turn the soil... and found that, like the other stretch of lawn I dug up, there is a layer of hardpack gravel and clayey earth about 8 inches below the good top soil. There is some perverse pleasure in searching out and prying up rocks the size of my fist, but around noon, I had to give it a break. There was this strange soreness in my side that I recognized from earlier in the summer: those are my digging muscles. I spent a day or two repenting this binge-like behavior before, wondering what I could have possibly done to deserve such punishment by lactic acid. Still, I thank my back for being a good back and only getting muscle sore, not pinchy owchy oopsy damaging spinal sore. I am old enough to know such things can happen to people who think they have indestructible backs. Still, there is always another rock to dig out, and such lovely weather, and as long as I am digging, I can't be expected to work on my school syllabi, which are quickly becoming unavoidable...

Here are some pictures of my yard so far. I love the blueberry bushes especially -- they are a lovely green against the dark mulch. Next year, the yew bushes will be fill out and the Russian sage will be sprawling into the pathway. The blueberries will be loaded and the hummingbirds (I saw one!) will zoom around the honey bees. The tall grasses will shade the porch and my rosemary will grow even bigger than the bush I had to leave behind at my old apartment. I'll plant the pear tree in the front yard for some shade, and it will magically only give me delicious fruits that don't fall and rot all over the yard. The tomatoes will do even better next year, when they get to be in the ground from the beginning of summer, although they're not too shabby this year -- look, aren't they beautiful? I love the actual plants -- I think I would grow tomato plants even if they didn't give any fruit. They're lush and hearty and brilliant.

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