Monday, February 6, 2012

Adventures in my California Garden

A heart-shaped pot my friend Phyllis gave me for my birthday two years ago, is now filled with pansies.

We're having a very mild winter in Northern California. Almost no rain storms so far, which means there could be lots of fires in golden California this summer. With spring on its way, I thought this might be a good time to compost my roses and some of the other flowers my folks planted here over the years.

I asked my friend Mickey, who has a landscaping business, if he could get me some compost and he said he would. When he delivered it, it was enough compost to make a pile that filled about a quarter of my driveway. I believe 'Holy Cow!" would be a very appropriate expression here.

I asked if he would have his men haul it into the back yard, where I could store it in the place I use as a vegetable garden, but he pshawed that. Now, with a large pile of compost in the driveway, I was sure we would get rain and then I would really have a mess.

So I began to shovel and haul.  And shovel and haul and shovel and haul. By a week ago Saturday, after about three days of shoveling I had the pile down to about half its size.

I was really tired, and as I walked back to the pile for the umpteenth time with a bucket in my hand, I forgot the chicken wire I had put on a corner of my lawn to keep the crows from digging into my sod. My gardening shoe got stuck to the chicken wire and as I flew threw the air, headed for the asphalt of my driveway I could see the accident happening as if it were in slow motion.

I think I used the bucket to break my fall.  Also both of my knees and my right foot.

As I lay on the ground making weird sounds, a young man working across the street came over to see if I was okay.  I didn't think I had broken anything, but I was just lying there, sort of resting, before making an attempt to get up.

"Unghgh," was the sound I was making, as he gave me a hand. I stood up and thanked him.

I went inside. Nothing broken, thank goodness, but I think I gave myself a nasty concussion. "Unghgh," I said as I stretched out on the couch with frozen pea packages on both knees and a package of frozen broccoli on my ankle. (These work better than ice, as they are softer and mold themselves to your body.)

No wonder those football players, who are weekly hit much harder than I was, have all had to have their knees and hips replaced. I'm still black and blue, eight days later.

Since then I've promised myself never to work more than an hour on the compost pile without taking a break.

And, after a week of hauling, it is finally down to manageable size.

 Look in the upper right hand corner: my quince is just about to blossom.

Now it looks so small I'm sure you will doubt how big it was in the first place.  I wish I'd photographed it then!

My father always used gardening tasks like this one was as games--he would think of them as an upper body exercise to tone up his arms and core, and as a walking exercise to improve his cardiovascular health. In trying to do the same I forgot that he was considerably larger than I and, he was a man.

He only began to fall when he grew too old and ill to be working in the garden.  And that's when I moved back to California to help out.

Whenever I work outside I think of him. And how many hours he spent using the garden as his gym, his club, his hobby, his experimental agricultural station. I'm not nearly as good a gardener as he was.

Next year--a smaller amount of compost and I will insist it is delivered to my back garden! If I had just been more firm about that none of this would have happened. On the other hand, it is nice to know I'm in good enough shape, after all these years, to handle a flying fall in the garden and to be able to get up and walk away from it.

May it be ever thus.
I now have compost everywhere! A veritable surfeit of compost.

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Don Meuler said...

Yow! I hope you're not hob-hob-hobblin' around for too long! xo

Robin Chapman said...

Lucky me: I only limped around for one day. My knees, however, look worse than Joe Namath's. But I'm hiding them at present under my jeans.

Don Meuler said...

I don't know; Joe's are pretty dreadful looking. Barely recognizable as joints...

Robin Chapman said...

Wait. He showed you his knees? Hmm. He didn't show ME his knees ...

Don Meuler said...

It was a long time ago. I don't remember much of the 80's... Still have a Namath Rams jersey, though.

Robin Chapman said...

Hmm, you don't remember much of the 80s? That sounds pretty wild!

Don Meuler said...

You should have been there! Or were you...?

Robin Chapman said...

I was busy covering Reagan in Washington D.C. and it was pretty sedate stuff, I must say ...

Don Meuler said...

I'm so sorry. President Reagan was no Joe Willie, for sure.

Robin Chapman said...

I believe that deserves a great big "Thank Goodness!"