I often have fantasies of a peaceful life spent doing some simple, repetitive task–darning socks, say, or making baskets, or saying rosaries for the souls in Purgatory. I don\’t know what prompts these dreams, because in reality I have less tolerance for repetition than just about anybody.
Take this morning, part of which I spent weeding the cracks between the stones of our patio, pulling up plants who think there is no better place in the whole green earth to call home than the gap between two pieces of slate. These gaps are so narrow that I can\’t get my weeding tool into them, and am reduced to yanking out the weeds with my fingernails. This works o.k. with things like clover and mint, which are easy to uproot after a rain, when the ground is wet and soft. But dandelions and crabgrass happily surrender their leaves, secure in the knowledge that this will strengthen their root systems and allow them to put out even more luxuriant growth.
Time and time again, between June and September, I weed the patio. And time and time again I rue the day when I decided to build a patio outside the back door, instead of a deck. I went with the patio option because around these parts slate practically grows on trees, and it would have been a crime against nature to use any other material. Yet every time I weed I think how a deck would have saved me this endless, boring, finger-hurting task.
And then I wonder why I cannot simply accept this weeding, be one with the crabgrass and the dandelions, and give thanks that I can still squat for hours. And I do, for a minute or two, but before I know it, I\’m deep in technicolor fantasies about a deck.
Spent the rest of the morning brushing dogs–mostly Wolfie. If you have never brushed a German Shepherd, you have no idea what I\’m talking about. Among their many distinctions, Shepherds are the all-breed champion growers and shedders of hair. They have top coats and under coats, long hairs and short hairs, stiff hairs and soft-as-dandelion-fluff-stick-to-your-lips hairs. They are generous with their hair, letting you have it by the pound–on your rugs, your clothes, your air–because there\’s always more where it came from, in all seasons.
Again, I ask myself, why can\’t I just be present with the brush, and the dog panting in my face, and the sun beating down on us all? Why can\’t I be grateful, etc. etc.? And why, why, having over the years brushed several cubic tons of hair off Lexi did I have to go and get another Shepherd?
I lucked out with Bisou, though. Her coat is long and fine, and knots just slide off. It doesn\’t take long to get her looking like a Breck Shampoo Girl, and at the end of the session all I have to show for it is barely a handful of red and gold strands.
So now the dogs are brushed and the patio\’s weeded. But even as I reward myself by writing here, I can hear the faint sounds of weeds and hair pushing up through earth and skin.