Yesterday we mowed the lawn. Two months of mower breakdown grew a weed-filled meadow in front of the house, overwhelming the concrete drainage channel that runs down the side of the block, and flows like a small, healthy creek when it rains. Our house is in a flood precinct and never floods because this modest drain does its job so well.
But we let the weeds grow over it, and rubbish pile up in it, and so it took some time to clear it out and unblock the opening to the pipe which runs under the front wall and out to the road. At the end my arms were shaking. It’s not only the lawn which has become unmaintained.
Leaf litter which had washed down the drain from the crepe myrtle in the next door garden had built up in three or four places, and when I dug it out, it had a rich, earthy odour. I kept a handful and carried it to the compost, but most of it ended up in a pile with the weeds. I don’t have the confidence in my compost to be sure that it will burn weeds, although sometimes when I put my hand down in the centre to see if it’s cooking, I think it could.
While I was working at the front, pulling grass out of the cracks in the drain, I talked to our neighbour, who was sitting on her step in the sun. She has had her hair cut. She says that she feels liberated. We talked about long hair and headaches.
This morning, despite a cold night, the compost is full of heat and steam, and has that bitter cat piss smell of decomposing grass. We tore up and mixed in two of the old pizza boxes which have been waiting in a pile by the bin, and remembered when we had takeaway with G & R because we were all too tired and busy to cook.
I read in the Saturday Herald that business executives outsource their gardening, and yet that the baby boomers don’t know how to retire. “Busyness,” writes Adele Horin, “has become a measure of self-worth.”