Over on my philosophical blog, Church of the Churchless, I wrote yesterday about "How our non-easy-care yard enlightens me."
I don't really believe in enlightenment. But I'd still like to be enlightened.
Just seems like a cool state to be in. Akin to stoned, I suppose (a state of being I'm much more familiar with), but without having to imbibe psychoactive substances.
So I like to think that our yard is enlightening me, chore by chore. After 25 years of taking care of our non-easy-care property in rural south Salem, Oregon, I've had plenty of time to ponder the Meaning Of It All.
For a long time I envisioned that what I was doing with all my mowing, fertilizing, weeding, planting, chopping, trimming, and such was keeping our yard in a condition that we could sit back and enjoy after all the work was done.
Yeah, I know. That sounds stupid, doesn't it? I can't believe that I actually believed this for so long, because it never came to pass.
OK, not so much never, as rarely.
...Today, as I was watering, mowing, and edging, I was struck more than ever by a truism whose truth I continually keep remembering and forgetting, remembering and forgetting, remembering and forgetting.
(Maybe enlightenment is doing neither?)
As soon as I make a distinction between what I'm doing, and the hoped-for enjoyment produced by what I'm doing, I'm screwed. Then I'm on the Hamster Wheel of Happiness where, I imagine, just one more freaking movement of my paws will result in me getting to a blessed state of rest.
Problem is, I never get there. The big wheel of my life just keeps on turning, exactly as Tina Turner said way back when.
Doing my yard maintenance thing this afternoon, I felt more of my someday illusions falling away.
All of the enjoyment I'm ever going to get from our yard, every bit of it, is part and parcel of me wrestling the mower around tight corners, edging the grass with dry dust and bark flying up and hitting me in the face, carrying heavy bags of fertilizer around, digging holes for new plants in rocky hard clay soil.
For more of my musings about what our yard is teaching me, check out the full post, which includes quite a few other photos.
I enjoy sharing photographs of our yard in part because my wife and I put a heck of a lot of time and effort into working on it, yet since (1) we live in a rural area, and (2) our house is at the end of a steeply sloping driveway, pretty much invisible from the road, few people see it.
Almost ten years ago I pleaded in another post, "Look at our yard, please!"
We are slaves to our beautiful yard. Don’t get me wrong: we love our servitude. Up to a point.
It’s just that the older we get, the crazier it seems to be to lavish so much time and effort on maintaining Garden Poet-created landscaping that, mostly, just Laurel and I see.
For we are not the most social of human beings. We rarely entertain (except ourselves) and our rural neighbors are entirely out of sight. Thus when I divide the work we put into the yard by the number of people who visually enjoy the fruit of our labors, the result is miniscule.
However, it dawned on me that if I post these photos, and X number of people look at them, hopefully getting at least a glimmer of “ah, nature” from the images, then our yard’s enjoyment cost/benefit ratio has improved to that degree.
Interesting, how back in 2005 I used the word "crazy" to describe our devotion to our non-easy-care yard. Last summer, in 2014, I'd found a way to convert that craziness into something positive. Here's how I put it in "The joy of being crazy -- in a sane way."
Handling my large self-propelled DR mower this afternoon, spending more than an hour cutting tall grass in both our lawn and walking trails, I kept thinking "This is crazy." I often think that when doing chores on our property.
Other senior citizens head to condos or small houses at our age.
They don't spend nearly as much time as we do on home and yard maintenance. (My wife's current garden battle is with an unusually large infestation of voles, small burrowing creatures who are a pain to deal with.)
But recently I've come to a different realization of what someone saying "You're crazy" often means: You're different. Meaning, you have a way of looking at the world that is so unlike mine, I can't understand how what you're doing makes sense.
This puts a whole other spin on those two words. Mowing away today, I realized that I enjoy taking care of our ten acres as much or more than I dislike it.
I feel like I've been married to our property so long, we've established a relationship like many old couples have: outwardly caustic, inwardly loving.
You know, like when the wife says "Oscar is a goddamn pain in the butt; he drives me crazy; I should have married my boyfriend in high school rather than this old coot; I've been able to live with Oscar for fifty years but now I'm praying the Good Lord will take me so I don't have to listen to his snoring any more."
So, yeah, it's crazy for us to keep driving ourselves, um, crazy by keeping on doing what we have to do on our property. Yet for now we wouldn't have it any other way. Still, I can completely understand why other senior citizens chuck it in and head for some sort of Retirement Village.
However, they are them and we are us.
Well, now I've got a new way of looking at our yard: it's my wordless, enigmatic, entirely natural Zen master.
It's either guiding me toward enlightenment, driving me insane, keeping me mentally and physically healthy, or pushing me into an early demented grave.
Hard to tell. Could be all of the above.