Tag Archives: Yardwork

Courage at Twilight: Remember When?

“Remember when you spread the fertilizer on top of new snow and the whole yard turned yellow?” Dad asked me, chuckling.  Yes, I remembered.  Pushing the spreader through six inches of heavy wet snow took all my strength.  Dad had commented then that “It looks like a whole herd of deer peed in my yard!”  Yes, it did.  Now it was early March, and more snow was coming, and Dad wanted the lawn fertilized before the snow fell, and Mom asked if I could do it since Dad could not.  The day before, Dad had started up his riding mower, dropped the blade to the lowest setting, and set off around the yard sucking up pine needles and the thatch of dead grass.  “No problem,” I said, anxious to get back to my rising bread dough.  “It will only take me 15 minutes.”  Pouring the bag of yellow fertilizer into the drop spreader, dozens of hard chunks fell out, too hard to crumble with my fingers.  An hour later I was still wrestling with the smaller chunks that clogged the drop holes.  I repeatedly jolted the spreader to clear the apertures, spreading fertilizer in uneven spurts.  I delivered a frustrating report to Dad, and found him pounding fertilizer stones with a rubber mallet, reminding me of an older prisoner tasked for years with breaking rocks.  But these yellow rocks would not break.  “I think we should take this bag-full of hard chunks back to the store and ask for a new bag,” I suggested.  But he did not want the fight, and I remembered that it is his privilege to choose his battles, not mine.  So, I let the matter go, spread the fertilizer that would spread, dropped the bag of chunks in the garbage, and stomped into the kitchen, where I found the ciabatta dough fermenting nicely.  And I began to look forward to our dinner of homemade gorgonzola, ham, and tomato-cream pizza.

Courage at Twilight: Raking Fall Leaves

The best leaf rakers Mom and Dad had for our New Jersey yard were us children—six of us.  (Mom and Dad helped, of course.)  With half an acre to rake, we got after it, making huge piles of walnut, willow, oak, sumac, and maple leaves to jump and roll around in, before we piled them in the garden for compost.  These days, Dad does not bother with rakes, except to pull leaves out of the bushes and tight corners.  Instead, he mounts his riding mower and sucks up the maple and sweetgum and beautiful red pear leaves into the two rear-mounted canvas bags.  This technique saves Dad from the impossibly fatiguing task of raking, and gives him the pleasure of riding his mower long into the cold season, when the grass has stopped growing.  With no vegetable garden to nourish, the bagged leaves find their way to the landfill.