Spring has finally sprung and as much as its arrival might have excited me in the past, this year, winter’s final curtsey means only one thing: yard work and lots of it. Once upon a time this was my ex-husband’s department; nothing pleased him more than pruning and mulching, trimming and mowing and clearing away the detritus of winter. It was one of his only redeeming qualities, which is sad, but there you have it.
A small orchard of plum trees crowds the side yard like a gaggle of commuters on a rush-hour train, their limbs all akimbo, jostling for space. The low-hanging branches need to be cut away so the grass underneath has a prayer of getting enough light and the tops and sides need attention too. My ex took all the tools with him when he moved out, a fact I curse every time I need a screwdriver or hammer (I realize I have to purchase one) and yesterday, while in search of the hand-saw we kept in the shed, I realized it was gone as well, which killed the little bit of momentum I had mustered. Last night I lay awake wondering who might have one I can borrow and what I’ll do with the damn thing when I get my hands on it (I’m a pruning novice) and it made me miss him a little. How pitiful is that? The only thing I miss about him is that he isn’t here to trim the trees.
We bought this ancient house with its enormous yard in order to re-build a life that was crumbling around us. Like the pioneers of old, we thought that if we settled a piece of land and settled down it would be our saving grace, but it was all for naught. Instead we found ourselves settling out of court with a no-fault divorce and going our separate ways which was unsettling, at best.
Then, like a bolt from the blue it occurs to me: I could simply hire someone to do the yard work and suddenly my mind takes a turn down another road. I envision myself, nestled comfortably in the big wicker chair on my porch, watching a guy on a tall ladder who’s worked up such a sweat that he has to remove his shirt. Sipping from a large glass of iced tea that is sweating almost as profusely as he, I walk over and offer him a glass of his own; I’m not heartless, after all. And as sexist as it may seem to think about objectifying a half-naked man, muscles glistening as he works away in the heat of the afternoon doing a job I dread, it brings me a sense of relief and I’m finally able to drift off to sleep as visions of gardeners dance in my head.
My ex was great at taking care of the surface things; he could weed and cut the hedges, paint the porch and barbeque with aplomb but he never had the tools to take care of me or the inner-workings of our married life and unfortunately, you can’t hire someone for that. As much as I hate the fact that money can’t buy you love, it sure can buy you the services of a hard-working yard-man and in the end, even though figuring all this out has given me a big fat the headache, it’s nothing compared with the heartache that used to come with the territory.