^ This is my 'after' shot. Trust me, you do not want to see the 'before.'
Here's the thing about traveling.
It's all very well to wander the planet for three months and have the time of your life, but we all know there is a price to be paid for such an extended frolic.
Yes, while I have been off motorbiking through Vietnam, swimming around Malaysia, visiting my family in the mitten of Michigan and camping in the great Pacific Northwest, my garden has run absolutely amok.
And that's putting it kindly.
^ A garden bed that was lately overrun by a pack of unwelcome suckers from the neighbors' bushes now cradles three new azaleas and a saucer full of succulents. This may not look fancy to the untrained eye, but I just want to kiss every neat and orderly green leaf in sight.
My backyard has been especially hard hit.
Trees and shrubs growing out of control,
spring chores still undone in August,
sticks and leaves blown willy-nilly through the plantings.
Slugs running around like they own the place.
And weeds, weeds, weeds.
It's shocking how they multiply.
^ I don't mind the cute bits of moss that grow between the bricks of my patio, but this area used to be overrun by unruly sprouts of grass. They had to go. Not only was the green stuff an ugly eyesore, but the cats were using it to stash dead shrews. True story. And definitely not okay.
So this past week, which I spent boringly, blessedly at home, was the turning point.
I summoned up my courage, faced my fears and stepped out the back door to do battle with these forces of anarchy.
I started with the patio.
^ Since I missed out on some of my spring garden clean-up chores, this bush full of white puffy hydrangea blossoms was still speckled with the brown skeletons of last year's flowers. When I finally trimmed out the last of them this week, it was the gardener's equivalent of taking down the outdoor Christmas lights in May. In other words, about freakin' time.
Ugh. I hate feeling discouraged.
^ See the top edge of my fence? Oh sure, now you can. But up until a few days ago, that line was obscured by droopy, flopping branches from my neighbor's trees. Amazing how much neater and more orderly things look after a quick haircut.
As I was back at it again this afternoon, pulling an infinity of weeds from between the bricks on the patio, where weeds seem to grow like...well, weeds, I had a thought.
^ To the left, my collection of special stones; to the right, a saucer full of succulents. Both were littered with stray sticks and dead leaves and sorely in need of some TLC. Mission accomplished.
Maybe, instead of focusing on my garden's imperfections and strong preference toward entropy, maybe I should just embrace it.
^ I am a sucker for hostas and impatiens, but sadly, the slugs love them just as much as I do. Sorry, dudes, this garden ain't big enough for the both of us so slug-bait is a must.
True, it's not perfect. Not by a long shot.
But maybe perfection is overrated.
^ Granted, the bird house did not need much maintenance, but on the trellis beyond grow several roses and other climbing vines that craved my attention.
Maybe it's okay for me to take a break from the pulling and the pruning and just enjoy my garden for what it is.
Hmm. Novel idea.
So I raked up my piles, and put away my tools.
I went in the kitchen and scrubbed the dirt out from under my fingernails - well, the first layer of dirt, anyway.
Then I grabbed a glass of water and my book and headed back outdoors where I sat in an orange chair and enjoyed the peace of a late afternoon in my garden.
And I didn't mind the last few weeds at all.
(Well, maybe a little.)