Blitz gardening is now micro gardening #680

#680 in a series of true experiences in real estate

It was late afternoon, and I’d just come in from the garden. Standing at the kitchen sink washing mud off my hands, I heard, over the answering machine, a voice.

“Do you ever really notice when you’re working in the garden,” my friend Gretchen was saying, “that you’re getting older?”

With wet hands, I picked up the phone. “Yes, yes!” I said. “My body is completely broken. I just said to Anet that I don’t know how many more times I can completely clean up my garden.”

“Yeah,” my friend agreed. “Those days are over when I’d go directly from bed at eight in the morning, work all day and come back inside after six. Why, I used to stay out sometimes until after dark, turn on the lights to see. I even worked in the rain.”

“I do as much of my gardening as I can while sitting down,” I admitted. “Like today, I was working in the front yard clearing old needles and pinecone slices and weeds. I sat down, lifted up branches and slid my little rake underneath to pull out the stuff.”

Gretchen shrieked, “That’s how I do it now too! I’m into micro gardening now. That’s what I call it. I have my little rake and I work in a space maybe 3 feet in diameter at a time.”

She sounded peeved. “I tell myself that every little bit counts.”

Gretchen’s garden is larger than mine, and her approach to it is bigger, too. I’ve been there many times watching as she set upon her beds. She lopped off errant branches, pulled out unwanted plants in their entirety. At the end of the day there was debris all around.

She liked this. She stood back and gazed at the products of her efforts with satisfaction, then bagged it all up, finally sweeping the edges clean. I’ve known her to carry out a bottle of champagne, perch herself at a vantage point, and celebrate.

“The thing is that I can’t do blitz gardening anymore,” Gretchen told me. “You know what I mean? I used to let things go until they looked really bad knowing that in one weekend I could blitz the place and get it all fixed again.”

“We did everything blitz mode in the old days,” I said. “Both of us thought nothing of painting a room after we got home from work.”

“Or deep cleaning the whole house plus doing all our laundry in a day,” said Gretchen. “Not to mention countless wooden doors, windows, and entire staircases we’ve both stripped the paint off of!”

“And remember the days when I was giving a party, and doing all the food, but didn’t even begin thinking until the afternoon?” Gretchen added. “I’d start by reading recipes, finally settle on what I’d serve, go to the store, and bring home the ingredients. I wouldn’t start cooking until late in the day, and I didn’t find this unusual at all.”

“We didn’t do things a little bit at a time when we were younger,” she went on. “We did whatever it was all at once. Now when I garden or clean house, I start later, knock off earlier, and take rests. I used to fill up 12 to 15 green garbage bags in the garden in one day. Now I’m lucky to do 5 or 6.”

“I noticed today that I was picking up little piles of stuff,” I told her. “Instead of sweeping it all into a big pile at the end, or all the way down to the bottom of the stairs, I was cleaning up as I went.”

“Me, too!” Gretchen said. “I started thinking, why move it all to another spot? Why not just deal with it in sections?”

“I do think it’s easier,” I said. “I don’t know why I’m suddenly doing picking-up differently than I always have, or why I didn’t do it this way before. Isn’t it amazing that we both came to this at the same time?”

“Hey, it’s that micro gardening thing,” she said. “The deal is not to look at the whole picture anymore, but instead do everything possible to one small area at a time.”

“Oh, that’s good, I’ve got it,” I told her. “Last weekend I was working on the lamb’s ears on the slope. You know how they get all mushy underneath from the rain and they look bad. So I was sitting in the middle of the bed, trying not to slide down the hill. I held onto my bucket with one hand and reached out as far as I could to pluck the squishy leaves with the other. I wondered how many more years I could manage that tottery little operation.”

“Like my Japanese anemones,” she replied. “They’re bad. They’ve grown into the path between the stepping stones, and they have all that brown old stuff still left on them from last year. It has to be carefully cut off because the new green leaves are already here.”

“What if we cut lamb’s ears and anemones down to the ground in the fall?” I asked. “Cutting them off shouldn’t keep them from growing and maybe would eliminate the cleaning up in the spring.”

“It might work. I should make a note to cut off the anemones when they’re done blooming, say in November.”

“But you wouldn’t do it then,” I pointed out, “because it will be raining then and soggy, and you won’t want to go out there.”

“You’re right, I won’t. I’ll just have to deal with them in spring. Like tomorrow. They’re so beautiful when they bloom, but boy, these guys really grow, and the place they’re in must be their most favorite place in the world.”

Then she added, “Have you noticed how much longer recovery time is? I mean, on Mondays, it’s not so much that I’m sore, I’m just tired.”

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