Our yard, sigh. It’s almost never been what I wanted. I’ve planted more doomed plants than there are blades of grass in my neighbors immaculate lawn. When the plants go in, I have delusions of grandeur—and oh boy are they pretty delusions—of how they’ll turn out. But most times, nothing like I imagined ever happens. Shrivel, shrink, die. Part is because we live on a sand hill. Almost nothing grows on a sand hill. I’ve sodded, seeded, plugged, and pleaded, and it just isn’t going to happen.
And of course I’m worried about what the neighbors think. Isn’t that ridiculous bondage to be in? I let my yard stress me because I’m afraid others will decide we’re lazy or have poor taste or don’t care.
What’s sad, people do judge others by their yard. I even do it. Shame on me! Shame. On. Me! It’s ingrained in me. The other day a person close to me and my upbringing who shall remain nameless came to my house. The first thing out of this person’s mouth was, “You need to mow your lawn. Why don’t you mow your lawn?” Shame, judgment. I scrambled to explain the situation, to try to shuck off the shaming, but it just reinforced the bondage. How stupid.
We could spend way more than our budget allows on water to empty the Pikes Peak reservoir onto our sand hill, but it wouldn’t help, not with the things I want to grow. Sand in an arid climate does not hold water. So whatever grows has to be able to lick up a drop or two as the water rushes past its roots on its way to the aquifers way below the subdivision. Those plants would mostly be dandelions, and certainly not Kentucky Blue.
We’re converting our yard into a field of wildflowers. This is a messy business. It doesn’t always look nice. Actually, it mostly doesn’t look nice, to be honest. It looks like it needs to be mowed, for one. But when it is in bloom, it’s wonderful. And it works for me, because I can’t do yard work anymore. Because of my health issues all I can do is look at it. It all falls on Jason’s shoulders, and he’s working ten hour days. Not fair to make him produce a yard like my neighbor’s to relieve my bondage.
We’ve had some unexpected successes. Nothing lived from the most expensive, hardy roses we got at the nursery. But the $3 sticks I got from BigLots are growing and right now are covered with roses in a beautiful array of colors. The California poppies won’t grow in the yard, but they’re making a fantastic ocean of gold in our rock walkway where I’ve told them repeatedly they don’t belong. (That’s another thing I can do besides look at the yard. I can scold it.)
There are a lot of lessons for me in this whole thing. I’m trying not to let my yard determine my value. I’m trying not to let shame drive me. I’m trying to reprogram those tapes that say bad things about things that don’t matter.
I’m also trying to have grace for the people whose yards look like “rentals,” or like they’re growing a wild flower garden. Maybe they can’t afford the water bill. Maybe they can’t stoop down or kneel or sit on the ground. Maybe they have another reason that’s none of my business of why they can’t make their yards look like my neighbor’s.
In 1997, when the kids were three, and before Colorado dove into its decades-long drought, and when we lived where cows once pooped on a fertile field of dirt on an old farm, and we had thick trees that kept the shade cool and air pure, I seeded some zinnias that just took off. When the circumstances have been just right, and the planets aligned, I’ve had a few successes. Fortunately, I captured it in a photo. And I let my kids be in the photo too as a nice ornamentation.
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