Sun Ra - Column for 8/25

The State of the Yard

Well, I don't have much to write about this week. The Worst President Ever has been more or less lying low, and aside from the antics of the "but my religion is special, and exempt from that whole church-state thing" judge, nothing's really gotten up my nose recently that would inspire any sort of good ranting.

And, sadly, I find that spending most of the day writing (my book) really burns out my creative circuits, as though I had some sort of wittiness spring that only went so far, and then was used up for the day. Then an evening of really wacky dreams fills it back up.

So I'm just going to ramble. Speaking of dreams, I heard on the radio that exercise helps one to sleep better. I oftimes suffer difficulty when trying to fall asleep - and I exercise some but not all of the time. So I'm going to try and discern if there is any correllation between nights when I have trouble sleeping and days that I skipped working out. Frankly, I'm hoping it's damn near one to one. Because then I'd have another stick to goad myself into going to the gym with.

Speaking of sticks, my July vacation followed by an August that was terribly humid, hot, and mosquito-infested really killed my gardening plans. The back yard looks like some sort of construction zone, which I guess it is. The ivy is only one-quarter pulled out, although in the places I did get to before the vacation, it's looking pretty well beaten. But I've not done anywhere near what I'd planned back there, to date.

Of course, it's August. It's not worth planting anything now - the only due date I really have at this point is to get the yard cleared by late fall, so I can bury it under horse manure and rototill it. (You see, manure can actually scald plants - you need to give it several months of exposure so that it can mellow before putting in your spring plants.) So I keep tinkering at a snail's pace, and the yard keeps looking thrashed.

Today I took some dead limbs off of a tree that abuts my neighbor's yard. He came out and moved his car, and I sawed off a couple arm-size dead limbs with my saw-on-a-stick. One of them was over his yard, but it was my tree, and he's in his seventies, so I figured I should cut it. His policy towards the space between our houses is that it's all my yard - and it pretty much is. The property line is hard on his driveway. But since the last few decades (save only the people who sold us the house, who only lived here a couple of years) the whole lot was allowed to run wild, anything I do is an improvement.

Mostly what I've been doing is destructive, so far. First I cut out the scrub brush, and most of the creepers (we had wild grape vines the thickness of your arm, and a hundred feet long), and now I'm yanking up the ivy, revealing bare dirt. So far I've come across a billiard ball, a yellow jacket nest, a FEMA ID tag, assorted bags and broken plastic garbage, and a tin can. And that's only about a quarter of the ivy cleared.

When I was taking out the brush (with a saw and big lopping shears), I left a few little six-foot trees, figuring I'd cut them down later. When I was clearing the ivy from the patch next to our porch, I decided to cut down one of said trees. Well, damn me if the tree hadn't produced a couple very attractive purple flowers. So it got to live. Now that's timing.

I'm also waiting for the razzle-frazzle Home Despot near us to get their chipper-shredders fixed. They have three residential-size chippers, and they have all been broken all summer. Meanwhile, the huge pile of brush (easily as large as an SUV) I cleared earlier has dried into a huge pile of sticks, and the birds are nesting in it. The neighbors don't seem to mind (it is in back), but I want to turn it into bark chips. And nowhere else seems to rent non-industrial-size chipper-shredders. They cost $300+, so I don't want to buy one. I don't anticipate needing one again in the next five years.

Unlike a rototiller. I've got a soft spot in my heart for rototillers, and now's my chance to own one. There's just something... primal about walking behind a device that chews up the earth, so that you can plant things in it. An ancient Babylonian with an ox and a stick, or me with a 6.5 HP motor and steel tines, it's really all the same thing. So as soon as I have the ivy cleared, I can go buy one. My wife says it's okay.

And that's basically where we are. We just had a fantastic weekend, cool and relatively few mosquitoes, but I don't get to work on the yard on weekends, because we are working inside. (Just painted three walls of the den and tore down the fourth. Next weekend we put up drywall and paint that one.) I've sprayed the yard with mosquito death, so we should be fairly mosquitoless for a few weeks. Maybe I'll get the ivy pulled.

Because I want that rototiller.

- Sun Ra

Columns by Sun Ra