There’s nothing quite like wielding a shovel against one’s own front yard of a mild May evening.
I love the gritty give of the coastal Carolina soil when I jump toes-first onto the top of the shovel head -it’s nothing like Manakin-Sabot red “shovel-goes-tink” clay.
I adore the crunching yelp of the matted grass roots when I kick the blade like a guillotine through the topsoil.
I savor the particles of sandy black dirt that coat my nostrils as I inhale more deeply with each mound of earthen entrails upturned.
A penciled drawing smudges back on itself in my jean pocket. It’s our landscape plan - give or take thirty feet and a different species of tree altogether.
Three river birches, lately thirsty in their pots on the edge of our driveway, will soon spread their toes and sink into a long drink.
But first, two rotten stumps and three brambled manhattan euonymus must go.
Every cut twisted euonymus branch is stripped of its leaves as it’s threaded out of the thorny vine that strangles it from the inside out.
After two days of lifting and pulling and cutting and yanking, my hands and arms are peppered with splinters. I’ve picked three leeches off my ankles and calves, and suddenly I find myself channeling Ripley.
“Take that, mother-fuckin’ euonymus. Eat my goddamn sawzall…YOU…BITCH.”
Chris finishes it off with the root axe…I can’t use that damn thing; it bounces off whatever I attack and just makes me feel puny; harshes the angry empowered gardener thing I’m cultivating.
With the view unobscured, I place the birches and score circles in the sod around the pots with my red-handled shovel.
I wonder if the front yard and I will plummet into some void, and a tiny round island with a potted tree will remain hanging in what looks like the vacuum of space.
Marvin Martian is there with a watering can.
I love playing in the dirt.