Happy first day of spring! It’s that time of year when flowers start to bloom and the California hillsides go from dried up yellow and brown to green. Well, that is if enough rain comes through. Anyway! I recently planted some calla lily bulbs in our front yard and it all just reminded me of how much I think gardening sucks. Although I do enjoy seeing colorful flowers and beautiful landscaping, I don’t have an intention of being the person to work on that project. That’s why we hired a gardener to come once a week and take care of it for us.
There is a very good reason for my disdain towards gardening. Remember when I wrote about growing up with parents afflicted by addiction disorder? When people are hooked on drugs they don’t think clearly. They latch onto certain concepts and become obsessive. That’s what happened to my ex-step-dad. He became obsessed with making me and my younger sister do yard work every weekend, winter break, spring break, summer break, and any other day off from school. We were 100% latch-key kids in those days and were given a list of tasks that needed to be completed.
Yard work I did included:
-Pull every single weed or green thing out of the rose bed. Roses and dirt only. One single bit of anything else was grounds for punishment.
-Trim the lawn around the brick with clippers or scissors.
-Weed out a 1 foot path around the perimeter of the front lawn. Dirt only, not a single scrap of lawn or weeds permitted. Use scissors or clippers to trim the edge.
-Pull each and every weed out from the cracks of the driveway using an old screwdriver. Sweep up any dust, dirt, leaves or debris caused by pulling weeds.
-Weed out every single bit of green from the trees. A 3-4 foot circle of dirt is only permitted around the trees.
-Dig a hole in the side backyard. Grind the dirt to a fine dust using a shovel. Put the refined dirt into a wheelbarrow. Use said dirt to cover gopher holes in the main backyard.
-Pull every single piece of grass or weeds from the patch of dirt under the apricot tree. Even pull the weeds from beneath the bushes that line the back fencing.
-Pull every single piece of grass or weeds from under the lemon/peach/avocado tree area and rake all the leaves. Only dirt and trees permitted.
-Use a wrench to remove welded on galvanized nuts and bolts from fencing.
-Dig a hole under the apricot tree at night with your sister to bury your beloved childhood dog. When an possum gets close and causes you to flee and seek your mom for comfort–suck it up and go back, keep digging your dog’s grave.
All this work was assigned at different times. If something was completed quickly, he would come out and inspect. He would use his jagged finger to point things out that I missed. “What’s this? What’s that weed over there? What about these leaves? You’re not done!”
Don’t come inside the house. Don’t get a drink of water. Work until it’s done. If you keep saying you are done and he keeps finding 1 leaf, 1 piece of untrimmed grass you are doing it on purpose to be a bad disobedient child. You are the only reason they ever fight.
Yard work was not assigned to make the house look nice. It was to keep us away. I quickly learned to not be fast and efficient. I hid books and small dolls in my bucket to help pass the time. Made up songs and poems to myself. Pull some weeds, read a chapter. Pull some more. Read another chapter. Keep your ears alert for footsteps. Don’t take up too much time but also don’t be quick. Make it believable.
His goal was to keep us outside as long as possible. I cut up my arms reaching around rose bushes to grab the tiniest little green thing. My fingers were banged up and I always had callouses on my hands from digging. I was afraid people would think I was self-harming because of all the cuts and scratches the rose thorns gave me. I was also not allowed to work with my sister. We were always in separate yards working away in the heat, in solitude. When I read the book Holes, I could relate to the story in a way.
So… That’s why I think gardening sucks. I will never be one to happily be digging away in the rose beds or tending to my tomatoes. I will never go pick berries for fun at a farm. My calla lilies however are starting to sprout. So that’s cool.