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Strawberry fields not forever: 7 things I learned about yard work this week

April 7th, 2005 · No Comments


This year I’m removing my strawberry plants from the garden. Shovel in hand, I noticed the little white blossoms and had to photograph them before they were gone forever. It’s intriguing to watch the shy flowers turn into fruit as the petals fall off and the small yellow center transforms into a big red berry.

Strawberries are fun. The kids had a great time gathering berries. We’ll miss them. These plants were a gift from a friend who moved away so they have extra significance. But the strawberries also are difficult to control with their long roots and runners. They had taken over most of the small patch I can use to grow my vegetables. Next year we’ll get new ones.

Yard work is fun. That’s one of many discoveries as I’ve spent good portions of the past three days taking advantage of the dry weather to work outside. Here are a few lessons I learned….

  • Yard work is a work out. After spending three hours moving mulch, I could feel many new muscles. In other words, I was sore. It did more for my back and lats than my running ever does, and the shoveling made great machine squats. On the cool day, the kids felt cold but I was hot and thirsty, as if I had taken a long run.
  • Yard work is dirty work. I shouldn’t take the kids with me and incorporate them into my mulch-moving task unless I also have the time to give them all baths afterwords. Plan on lots of laundry too.
  • Yard work is hard work. Moving the shovel and wheelbarrow made my fingers thick, red and bumpy with potential blister sites. I came inside and thought about the easy life I have had, my soft white fingers that rarely blister, and the level of labor I’ve never known.
  • The family that digs together stays together. Okay, I’m exaggerating that one. But the hours the girls and I spent working together with newspapers and mulch to improve a strip of dirt into a garden also improved our relationship. For the rest of the day the kids were exceptionally affectionate and grateful, showering me with hugs and “I love yous”. I think they liked working on a project with me. Maybe they liked being together with me, playing an important part in my job, and seeing our efforts have an effect.
  • Yard work is expensive and creative. It takes time to make a change, whether it is adding mulch or digging up a bed of strawberries. Of course, there is always the option of hiring someone else to do it, which motivates me to do it myself. Mulch isn’t cheap. Neither is time. The water bill gets a bump too, from extra bathing and laundering. When the garbage truck judged my can to be too heavy with weeds, I had to think of a solution or cough up more money for disposal fees. (note: strawberry roots carry too much dirt!) Each day this week I think I’ve spent more time than I calculated outside trying to accomplish something, and ended up throwing away the day’s schedule into chaos. Combating areas where unwanted plants had invested deep roots, I experimented with various methods of elimination, including decorating the strip of dirt with colorful sports pages: hey, I had a chance to catch up on the NCAA basketball tournament…after it was over. But what work doesn’t have a cost or require creativity?
  • Yard work is rewarding. At least some of the time. Weeding can be too redundant and make me wonder why I try. I have enjoyed though looking out the dining room window to admire our strip of dirt now a new bed of dark mulch. It’s a beautiful site, compared to the weeds that once ran wild there. It’s beautiful in its potential: I like the sight of a garden with mulch and also a project that has possibilities. It’s also beautiful because it reminds me of my independence, the work I did by myself, as well as my interdependence, the work I did with my daughters. I can’t wait to see what will grow.
  • Yard work is fun! In weeks like this, I could confess it is even addicting…good thing there’s always more to do…
  • Tags: gardening

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