It wasn’t so much the striking yellow beam of sun against a crisp blue backdrop of sky, the warm summer breeze scented of flowers or even the monumental scope of the project that would take my mind off of a job market lacking in opportunities. No, frankly, it was my competitive spirit that kicked in three weeks ago causing me to take gloves and spade in hand determined to make our yard the prettiest on the block! My landlord had done little if anything to maintain the flower beds since she had purchased the home two years ago. Rose bushes had become intertwined with honeysuckle, hydrangeas had become chummy with evergreens, and the weeds … well, the weeds had grown uncontested for such a long time that I’m sure I heard them scoff as I approached.
But how hard could it be? After all, millions tended to their own yards never complaining of chipped nails, bug bites, or an occasional sweaty brow. If I played my cards right, perhaps I’d even burn a calorie or two. And so it was that in a bright white t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes I headed into the yard just after sunrise determined to make my mark! I had all the right tools, a long uninterrupted day and enthusiasm that would not be deterred by the heat, the stubbornness of the weeds or the animals that had gathered to watch a fine display of “Stick-to-it-iveness.” If only I had known of the dangers that lurked ahead.
Apart from the rash (I’m apparently allergic to pine needles) and almost poking my eye out with a stick, my ass took the worse beating of all. First, there was the less than graceful slippery slope on which my tennis shoes held no traction. The down hill bum slide wouldn’t have been much to write about except for the fact that I, in my white t-shirt and shorts, ended the slide in a pile of sticks, prickly weeds, and thorny rose bush branches. The chatter of squirrel laughter was drowned out only by the volley of foul words that were racing quickly from my brain to my lips. Pulling myself slowly to my knees, I made my mud encrusted way back to the point of disaster and ascertained quickly whether my return to the house could be made without encountering a neighbor, the mail carrier, or one of the painters that was hard at work on the house across the way!
With the mud removed from my exterior parts and a fresh change of darkly colored clothes, I returned to the yard certain that disaster would not strike twice. After all, the tennis shoes had been discarded in favor of gardening clogs and the sun now high in the sky had long ago dried the formerly dew covered grass. With the rhythmic chirping of young cardinals accompanying my efforts, I returned to the task determined that the pain in my ass would not deter me from accomplishing what I had set out to do. Hours passed as I worked in solitude keeping my aversion to dirt in check. Leaning back on my heels to survey my handiwork, my attention was suddenly riveted to the left where the sound of hoofs was followed by the appearance of a four-legged, white horned, black bearded creature evading capture. I was face to face with a large goat! Startled I lost my balance and, as the goat darted back through the hedge, I toppled over backwards. It wasn’t exactly a backwards somersault but something close to it and, in an attempt to stop my momentum, I stupidly grabbed for the trash barrel bringing it and its contents down upon me. Covered in dirt and spewing twigs and leaves from my mouth, I stared up at the clear blue sky, which earlier that day had beckoned me out of doors.
Had I just seen a goat? Was I flat on my back for the second time in one day? Where did Martha Stewart get off making gardening look like so much fun? What had I been thinking? Like automobiles, gardens should be left to the experts. It took a few days but I did recover from my injuries. The rash has subsided, the bruises are gone, and there has only been one more goat sighting. I’ve added a few gardening books to my personal library, will study up before spring rolls around again and have purchased a harness to keep me upright and safely attached to the deck.
There have been many lessons learned this year, not the least of which is that goats and geese are to be feared. I was later informed that the goat had escaped from a farming exhibit at the local community college. He and his female partner were apprehended four houses down in front of a “For Rent” sign, but not before I came home one evening to find our large bird bath dry as a bone and not a morsel of food to be found in any of the recently filled bird feeders. Seems the goats had one last feast before their capture.