The married Gardener

My husband and I have faced some serious challenges together. Like building two houses. His cancer diagnosis. A couple of elections. After each of these rather stressful events, we gave each other a long look, brushed ourselves off and went about our business. However. Gardening brings out some kind of latent control issues in us both. Dare to plant the tomatoes in the wrong part of the patch, and all bets are off. The hissy fits are reality TV worthy.

Things are at their most serious when we have to put equipment together. We just got a new weed whacker and assumed it was ready right out of the box. Charging the battery was the easy part, but figuring out how to attach the safety cover and flower guard? Two Neanderthals trying to program a smart TV would have better luck. Two dumb Neanderthals. It was only when we finally stepped outside to turn the sucker on that I happened to catch sight of our neighbor, Gerry. He had such a pitying look on his face, I knew he’d be willing to help. Sure enough, he had the same weed whacker.

Talking to us slowly and clearly, like we might have trouble understanding (duh) he reached out and pointed to a little button we hadn’t noticed, plus a longer switch. “You have to hold them both down to start it.” We were so thrilled to finally get it going that we were willing to overlook his obvious concern. And, since we’ve lived next door for over ten years, well. He’s seen it all.

It was extremely necessary that I take the first turn. In the end, it was the only turn, because I could not stop whacking those weeds. “Watch the perennials,” Clarence shouted from the sidelines.  He barked out instructions which I totally ignored, and then he ignored me in turn when I told him that there was no room for squash in our small garden plot. “Put the marigolds over here,” he whined, while I planted them in the opposite corner.

It’s fighting therapy, doing yard work together. Somehow, while dealing with the petty details of seed management and the business of how to save the front lawn, we are able to plant a more meaningful peace. Because there are times when you should sweat the small stuff. It makes the big stuff so much easier to handle. Now I’m going to to march over there and take back my favorite rake.

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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