It’s a Wednesday afternoon and I’m out in the front garden (or ‘yard’ as the locals like to say) picking up apples. Maggot-ridden, squirrel-bitten apples. They’d be pretty good if it weren’t for all the wildlife eating them or living in them. Anyway, there’s a ton of apples and I fill up three cartons. While I’m doing this, a few more drop off the tree. These are half eaten. The squirrels are sitting up in the tree trying to drop them on my head.
The squirrels fail and I get all the apples picked up. I had to get rid of them so I could mow the lawn. I have to mow the lawn so I can treat the grass with a combination of fertilizer and weedkiller. Hiawatha, our neighbour, is hanging out at his backyard bar with a couple of friends. I wave. They wave back. Hiawatha is the lead singer of the Cult Heroes, a Detroit rock band. He’s having an afternoon beer or two. He saunters over.
“Hey, Keith! How’s it going?” “Pretty good.” “Hey, that’s Patti Smith’s bass player over there. Why don’t you come over and say hi?” “Sure.” So I wander over and am introduced to Patti Smith’s bass player. He smiles, shakes my hand but I can’t quite make out the name. “Larry?” “Gary.” Great. “Well, I’ve got to get this lawn done. I want to do the weed and feed thing today. You can see all the bare patches where I’ve used Weed-B-Gone.”
Gary looks over, laconically. “You know, if you water that, the grass will come back.” “Yeah?” “Yeah. And I’ve done that weed and feed. The best time to do it is when the grass is wet.” “Okay.” I turn to leave. Hiawatha shakes my hand again and then strokes my fingers like they’re sacred objects. The squirrels are mocking me and I’ve just been given gardening advice by Patti Smith’s bassist. My day has taken a surreal detour. “Okay. Well, I’d better get started. I’ll see you guys.”
I stroll back and rev up the gas mower. I saw the kid across the road racing through the long grass and I know I can do this quickly if I go for it but in the end I only get as far as mowing the lawn, front, back and side. It took two refills of gas in the mower and two hours. It wore me out. That was yesterday. Today we’ll do the weed and feed thing. Bonus: the grass is wet.