Monday, May 11, 2009

A dumptruck load of love

What weighs hundreds of pounds and can spark your marriage better than a candlelight dinner?
Not a hundred pound diamond ring, or even a few sets of the world’s best golf clubs. It may sound a little crazy, but I think it is mulch that does a marriage good.
Every spring we home owners find ourselves laying tarps on our driveways or hauling bags of mulch at the same time that the birdies sing their sweet little mating songs and rabbits appear by the thousands. Love is, undeniably, in the air, as animals across the board partake in the season of new life and renewed romance.
And while the air is filled with love, back on the ground our flower beds need a little love themselves. I admit that in the past I have completely overlooked the whole philosophical aspect of mulch, but this past weekend with the undersides of my fingernails stained brown and my shoes filled with tiny wooden slivers, it hit me. There’s a reason the world works this way.
There I was, squatting, crawling, and kneeling around the flower beds, spreading out the piles of mulch that my husband was hauling via Amos, our wheelbarrow. We received Amos when we were first married from a great uncle who had pieced together parts from his barn and added a new handle. There were some odd scratches on the front of it and in the right light, it seemed to spell out “Amos,” and from then on, our favorite yard tool had a name.
Amos has served us well, through moves from house to house, carrying dirt for gardens, chicken feed, children on wild rides around the yard. And even though that great uncle has passed, Amos lives on, stronger than ever. He is an odd staple in our life, a reminder that strong that lasts a long time.
But enough sappy wheelbarrow talk, back to the allure of mulching.
So I was in the flower beds, knees very well caked with mulch and my five-year-old son says to me “how come you are doing the hard work spreading the mulch out while daddy just brings it over to you?” (In his young wisdom he has never had the pleasure of moving five yards of shredded tree around an acre, so I guess I can understand why he thinks I had the hard job.)
Not wanting him to think I was the slacker, I said, “my job is just as hard as daddy’s. We always do it this way. We work together. He brings it, I slings it. We make a good team.”
“OK,” he said, accepting my little answer and running off singing the Wonderpets theme song. What’s gonna work? Teamwork!
Spending some good quality time in the dirt gives a person time to think and reflect, and out there spiffing up our yard, I realized that my husband and I do this same thing every year. We work our tails off shoveling and hauling and spreading mulch around the flowers that are just waking up. We sweat, we curse a little, we throw away the socks that we were wearing that day, and then when it’s all said and done, we sit together on the porch and stare at how beautiful everything looks. The dark mulch against the bright green shoots, the crisp line between beds and grass. It’s quite a stunning accomplishment that we achieved. Together.
Maybe it’s just the warm air or the songs of the birds or the flowers everywhere that make the world a more loving place during the spring, but at least at my house I’m going to give some credit to Amos and to the mulch and sit a little closer to my husband on the porch. After he showers.

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