Not wanting to take on the additional expense of a gardener right now, I’m handling my front and back yards by myself. But I have no idea what I’m doing. Usually I grasp the garden shears and hurl myself into the plants like Freddy Krueger among a bunch of sleeping, half-naked teenagers. If I’m in a mellow mood, they get just a little off the top, like a friendly barber: if my head is full of Sarah Palin and British Petroleum executives, it gets bloody. Branches and leaves strewn around like broken limbs and entrails, weeds uprooted and sent on diaspora.
I don’t think any of this is helping my place look nicer, but it is therapeutic. I’m getting used to it. If I do hire a gardener, I don’t know if I can give it up. I would need to hire someone who can also help me express my feelings. “I finished clipping the vines. Now tell me more about your childhood.”
There’s one plant, though, that is my personal nemesis. It’s tall, green, and thorny--so sharp that it draws ruby-colored pinpricks of blood if you touch it even slightly. It’s what Jack’s beanstalk would look like if that fairy tale had been written by a practitioner of S&M.
It took me a long time to figure out why the former owners of the house would even have planted such an ugly thing, but then it sprouted white flowers in the spring and I sort of got it. Nevertheless, I decided to clip it down to size. I hacked away at it with my shears--and to my horror, the top part broke away and slid over the fence into my neighbor’s yard.
My neighbor just moved in, and I’ve only met her once. Her name is--well, she might Google herself, but trust me when I say that her name is the equivalent of Moon Unit Zappa, so that’s what I’ll call her. She introduced herself to me:
“Hi, I’m Moon Unit Zappa.”
“Great, well, congratulations on moving in.”
“Or should I say, congratulations on coming in for a landing.”
Moon Unit made me promise to let her know if she plays her music too loud, although I’ve never heard so much as a note drift out of her house, and this caused me a great deal of concern. She was clearly the type to dance barefoot in a wild frenzy of neo-hippie mania, and I had just launched a barbed wire beanstalk into her back yard. What if she went all Van Morrison and Moondanced herself right across the thorns?
When confronted with the need to tell someone about a danger to themselves that I inadvertently caused, I typically take the low road out: don’t do anything. And, as this happened several weeks ago, I’m glad to say that I’ve heard neither music nor screams of agony from Moon Unit’s place (or, as I like to think of it, “Moon Landing"), so perhaps she never went barefoot dancing after all. Still, I am thinking I may need to accelerate the gardener thing. It’s one thing to slaughter plants in the privacy of my own yard--but when the carnage threatens to engulf innocents, it pushes me uncomfortably close into becoming an eco-terrorist.