I had big plans for my backyard this year, or at least big plans for big plans. I decided that this would be The Year of Preparation for the Most Amazing Garden Ever. I planted a few little things in pots, but mostly I thought big thoughts about the future.
I started a compost bin. I bought a garden cart. I was going to level The Mysterious Lump in the middle of the back yard so I could put a raised bed there next spring. I was going to start some flowers in the shady places under the trees. I was going to start some perennial edibles like asparagus and rhubarb. Above all, I was going to dig up/cut up as many of the blackberry bushes as possible, and keep cutting back any remnants that dared show their ugly little snouts, in hopes that within a year or two, I’d be all but rid of them.
The best laid plans of mice and men…
In the best of years, I have a limited interval between spring fever and the July blahs. Every year by about the third week of July, when I suddenly need to water and weeds grow faster than anything desirable and I’ve not managed to go anywhere or do much of anything I’d hoped to do, I realize that summer is half gone without much to show for it. It hits me like a ton of bricks, and I get depressed. Tradition!
To add to the challenges this year, I was in a car accident at the end of April, right when my fervor was at its peak. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but my little car was totaled and I was stiff and sore for close to a month, not to mention struggling with a heavy awareness of my own mortality.
Before I knew it, my yard was a sea of dandelions, my lettuce had gone to seed, The Lump abided, and the blackberries–oh, the blackberries!
They’re everywhere. There are so many and so thick that if I could afford it, I’d hire a blackberry hit-man. Especially given that not only do I need to pull them out, I also have to figure out a way to dispose of their prickly carcasses. They can’t be composted, they can’t go in the yard waste bin my garbage company provides since they’re considered “noxious weeds,” and I have no way to burn them even if we didn’t have a burn ban in effect and wildfires popping up on a regular basis. I usually have to chop them in tiny bits and feed them slowly into the regular garbage as I can make room, which takes time, and is more easily done later in the season when they dry up and retreat a little.
Time gets away from us so easily. A few weeks ago, my-brother-the-chef, my closest relative (physically speaking) took a new job and moved about three hours away, to Leavenworth, WA. It’s a great opportunity, a wonderful place to raise a family, and I’m thrilled for them. I went up and spent a few days helping where I could as they packed up to drive off into the sunset. Or sunrise, as the case may be.
And then they were gone. Not so far I’ll never see them again, and it’s not as though we don’t live in the age of Facebook and phones. But feel a bit left alone in my weeds and my brambles with many fine plans choked away: I was going to take my nieces and nephews to the children’s museum, to the beach, to the movies. We were going to make Christmas cookies and crafts and hike, when I got around to it. I could have done so much more with them than I did, and now it’s too late. I’m stuck with my choices, or lack thereof, just as I’m stuck with the blackberries.
But since I’m stuck with them for the time being I guess I might as well enjoy the benefits for a few more weeks. There are hundreds of sweet berries, with more ripening every day. I’m not ambitious enough to make anything with them, especially this year, but spending a few minutes a day wading through my dandelion sea to stuff my mouth with juicy blackberries isn’t a bad remedy for the late summer blues. Maybe they’ll motivate me to grasp the moments I have, instead of the moments that slipped away, and see that there is good even in what can feel like wreckage.