The Paving Stones of Good Intentions

I no longer do much gardening my own self. I pay someone to do the work requiring actual skill, like pruning, and I defer, delay, do-my-best-to-ignore the rest. Even so, every so often I must take action. I *could* pay someone to do the spring/fall yard clean-up, but I choke at the amount it would cost to outsource this unskilled labour, especially the cutting down of the wizened-up growth of nominally ornamental grasses. Who planted these things, anyway?

Not I. They arrived 15 years ago courtesy of the developer as a cheap way to fill in and beautify the patch of land around the community mailboxes: a patch adjacent to our property. Since then, they have indeed beautified the patch of land through the growing season, waving gracefully in every breeze and blocking the view of the scrubby undergrowth behind them. Since then, they have also done what living things do: Not content to bloom where planted, as it were, they have spread. And spread. And spread.

Each fall I hack away with pruning shears, fold the severed stalks in rough thirds, and wrestle them into yard-waste bags. Five to ten yard-waste bags, the number depending on how much I get done before the fall rains start. A task that is challenging with crisp stalks becomes impossible with soggy ones.

It’s a rare year that sees me complete the task in the fall (a natural consequence of my “delay, defer, do-my-best-to-ignore” strategy), so spring sees me at it again. Now, however, the formerly vertical stalks are horizontal, felled by drifting snow and criss-crossed in an almost impenetrable weave. If I trusted myself with a machete, that would be the tool of choice. As it is, I hack away with pruning shears as close to the base as I can get, fold the severed stalks as necessary, and wrestle them into yard-waste bags. Five to ten yard-waste bags, the number depending only on how much I got done last year. The fall rains will not save me in April.

Each spring I resolve to start sooner in the fall: an eminently reasonable strategy. Each fall, well, I don’t. This tiny mailbox garden teaches the importance of good execution to any strategy. Well, it would teach it if I would learn it.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

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12 Responses to The Paving Stones of Good Intentions

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    The great thing about procrastination is that you never have to fear you’ll have nothing to do tomorrow.

    My 12-year-old weed-puller has moved on to more lucrative pursuits. I may have to — AAARRRGGGHHH — get down on my own hands and knees this year.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Hahaha – my delay/defer strategy is a feature, not a bug, eh? Good luck with your knees – getting down can be as tricky as getting back up.

  2. Mary Gibson says:

    Hmmmm. Perhaps you need a project manager….

  3. I am there with you re “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”.

    The garden looks so nice especially with your last clean up and the logs being gone now. How may phone calls did that take?

    Thank you for initiating it and maintaining it over the years.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim R – Many thanks. Actually, the logs disappeared on their own as far as I know, along with the garbage car parts that someone had left there. (What is wrong with people?) Whether that clean-up was the result of another neighbour’s calls, or whether the City’s contractor who piled everything there made them go away, I don’t know.

  4. Tom Watson says:

    We lived in St. John’s, Newfoundland from 1967 to 1969. The Evening Telegram newspaper had a columnist named Ray Guy. His columns were generally filled with a fair bit of satire.
    At the time, the government, with Joey Smallwood as Premier, was under fire for giving a number of contracts to a firm named Lundrigans.
    Ray Guy ended one column by writing, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Lundrigans got the contract.”

  5. Barbara says:

    You wrote, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Sounds more like the flesh is sorta willing, but the spirit is weak.” 😀

  6. Ken from Kenora says:

    Personally, one of these days I’m going to stop procrastinating.

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