Sticks and Stones

     With the advent of warmer weather, everything outside turned green overnight. I knew it was time to start my summer yard work when my Dwarf Spruce trees suddenly became Redwoods. My Fire Bushes turned into four-alarmers and doubled in size. Branches from my giant maple tree were reaching down so low, squirrels were grabbing hamburgers off my gas grill. I had my work cut out for me. I wanted to get my clean-up project started before temperatures hit 90 degrees. Everything needed to be trimmed, pruned and spiffed up for the season.

     Before I could mow the so-called grass in my backyard, I had to spend a considerable amount of time picking up stones, sticks and small branches. If bonfires were legal, I’d have enough fuel to last all winter. Instead, I filled some trash barrels and prepared for a trip to the Stevens Street Recycling Center. As I unloaded my barrels of brush along with a few old wooden posts I found rotting in my backyard, I was told by the lot supervisor that it’s illegal to dispose of pressure treated posts. Thanks to the internet and a company called Wheelabrator in Saugus, I found a solution.

     Later at home, I’m mocked by the rock that that takes up half my backyard. This slate gray behemoth presides over my property like a stone god. It’s scary, scowling face doesn’t look too happy. The rock is still waiting for its much-promised landscape beautification project. It’s the perfect setting for a man-made waterfall flowing into a mirror-smooth Koi Pond. Sorry rock, don’t hold your breath. It’s never going to happen. The rock does have an upside. I have less grass to mow.

     Miracle of miracles, my lawn mower actually started up this year (thanks to my son). I’m a city boy who is still learning how to maintain this wondrous and complex machine. I’m getting better at figuring it out. When I first moved to Stoneham, I had to buy a new mower every two years. For me that was easier than learning small engine repair. Did I mention I’m not the handiest person around? My lawn looks great from a distance. Upon closer inspection it’s part Oklahoma desert, part Amazon rainforest. At least it’s green, except for the occasional straw-colored tumbleweeds.

     I take pride in my green thumb (or judging by my Addams Family rose bush, a black thumb). I’m still waiting for it to return from the dead. I’m an eternal optimist. I’m also too lazy to chop it down. I think I see some green sprouts trying to break through the hard black bark. Hope springs eternal blah blah blah. The best thing I ever planted in my front garden are my Black Eyed Susans. They return on their own no matter what I do (or don’t do) to them. I didn’t even know it was the town flower until I got a compliment from a woman walking by. She was wearing an odd beekeeper outfit, but I’ll take my compliments wherever I can get them.

     When I return home from work after being away all day. I don’t notice any landscaping imperfections. Instead, I see a reflection of my hard work even if there is no waterfall spilling into a Koi pond. My lawn’s fresh buzzcut will last for a week or so. I’ll cross my fingers and pray my lawn mower starts again. The one thing that has started for sure is the endless cycle of summer yard work. This weekend I’m going to cross my fingers and pray for rain.

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