Sunday, September 13, 2009

mucking out

Yesterday I pulled myself back from a threatening cloud of depression, by gardening. It was the sight of the mammoth sunflowers that did it -- oh so glorious with their dinner-plate-sized faces turned to the blue sky of July, and oh so horrible with their twisted brown leaves and decaying centers plucked clean by birds and squirrels come September -- which is what's supposed to happen, actually, but it's such a mess. Piles of sunflower seed hulls heaping at the roots of the bachelor's buttons, forget-me-nots and zinnias, rotting leaves plastered to the soil, enormous stems broken and naked-looking. And the grass grown too long around the decorative fencing, some late weeds, and some perennials that have been waiting patiently since they were overtaken by wildflowers in the early summer -- they've been biding their time, their foliage still looks good and I realized that if I cleaned out some of the crap and excess growth elsewhere these guys could still have a good month or more left in them...

I was telling my husband how depressed I was, something I rarely do. Telling him about the anomie problem, the work problems, the disappointments and the stretched-thin faith that things will all work out -- and even as I sat on the back step and moaned (something I hate hearing myself do), those bedraggled sunflowers with their broken backs and drooping heads sort of distracted me from where I was going -- which was nowhere.

It felt good to be cutting away dead growth, scooping up the stinking hulls and trimming the long grass -- removing the decay, tidying up, dead-heading -- encouraging the bit of new growth still possible before winter comes, and giving up on that which had run its natural course. I used the clean long grass to mulch around the more delicate plants, keeping moisture in the soil during this run of dry, warm weather. I raked together the rest of the refuse and tossed handfuls into the compost pile. I had to quit after half an hour yesterday, due to a wholly unexpected and entirely blessed rain shower that lasted an hour and spoiled our grilling plans (though we made up for it by ordering Vietnamese food.) Today, after church, I drank a cup of coffee and then tackled the rest of the job, listening while my son amused himself in the "bug house," calling out to him when I found a woolly bear or a worm so he could run and see. He boasts about killing insects, but his delight in them is obvious and the only critters in danger of his non-appreciation are black ants and houseflies. Which I find acceptable.

So, this gloom still lingers in the corners of my room, still a rainless little cloud behind my glasses -- but after cleaning the bathroom and starting the laundry, too, I feel prepared to face another Monday.

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