I was not quite done, but almost. Another day or two would complete my latest cycle -- the cycle being the weeding of the flower and veggie beds surrounding our house. It is an ongoing spate of activities between May and September.
Our home sits on a postage stamp-sized plot 100 by 40 feet, most of which is taken up by the house and garage. Over the past 35 years I've gotten rid of much of the crabgrass, dug up some ground and added a lot of topsoil for flower beds.
How nice, you might say. Not really. Clover and wild grasses have become as prolific as the impatiens, lilies and oxeye daisies. Even more abundant are the wild onions, chickweed and dandelions. (There are others, but those are the ones I can easily identify.)
Weeding is simple enough. I start in the back, kneeling on a rubber pad or bent over, and slowly work my way around the oval bed that frames the back lawn. It's easy to spot the tall shoots of grasslike weeds. Not so much the purslane. They play it safe and tend to hide under the impatiens and hostas. The beds along the driveway, which perhaps I shouldn't have begun cultivating in the first place, are filled with herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. The thorny branches of rose bushes -- which, I've noticed, have lost many of their leaves to black-spot disease -- tower over the veggies.
Our driveway, probably fine for Model T's and other narrow cars of the early 20th century, was never meant to hold today's massive vehicles. Neighbors in need of a good chuckle have only to watch this plump septuagenarian try to maneuver around two large cars in a very narrow space while dragging the garden hose from the backyard to the front. I'm regularly snagged by a wayward branch of the Betty Boop rose bush or slapped in the face by the cherry tomatoes.
The front beds present less of a problem, most likely because shade trees have kept weeds to a minimum. Last year, the violas barely stayed alive until midsummer, when they gave up the ghost. That was a real bummer because the garden center had advertised them as sturdy perennials.
After a week's work, I see some light at the end of the tunnel and sigh with relief, only to grow sullen when glimpsing a few shoots once again poking through the mini coreopsis in the back. Which means that in a few days I'll have to start all over again by attacking weeds with roots that go down to China.
The good news is that during the past year, for the first time, I've reluctantly agreed to let my husband, Larry, help. I hang around, though, making sure he pulls up the bad guys and not my daffodil bulbs, lilies and peony tubers. And there are always those stray greens he's missed -- the ones I deal with after he heads back into the house. (No sense in making him feel inadequate.)
For someone who spent much of his adult life giving orders in a newsroom, he's gotten pretty good at taking suggestions around the house, lending a hand with the laundry, shopping for food and even getting down on his knees in the garden.
This is a guy who started out not knowing a tulip from a daffodil, a day lily from a daisy. And now? I even find him gently separating the roots of plants he's taken out of pots and placing them into holes he's dug in the flower beds. Who would've thunk? I can't help but wonder when Mr. Greenjeans is eventually going to throw up his hands and flatly announce that he's had it, but I secretly hope it won't happen. I enjoy his company and trust the flowers also appreciate his efforts. And with the two of us attacking the weeds, the almost-done but never-ending cycle is almost tolerable.
Reader Irene McCoy lives in Rockville Centre.