What a fabulous weekend this has been! Finishing my sermon by the close of the day on Thursday makes a huge difference; I don't have it hanging over my head on my (usually) 2 sequential days off. And of course, the weather has been perfect -- 60s F with some clouds, but mostly sun; perfect weather for gardening. Friday morning one of the guys from church came over unexpectedly (the one that cleared out one jungle bed in my back yard), and was showing a friend my gardens, in anticipation of digging up some of the dozens of black walnut trees that the squirrels so helpfully planted in my flower beds. Walking around with them, really seeing the state of things, just made me sick. I had many tasks to do on Friday, but Saturday was a different story!
Saturday I spent a half hour or so in the veggie garden, transplanting beautiful little strawberry plants from the path where they don't belong, into the bed that I enlarged last summer (many of those summer transplants died of neglect, so now is my second chance). There is still a bit more room in that bed, so I'll do more of that before the frost (I hope -- that may come this week!). Then I really tackled my front beds. I spent a couple of hours pulling out only the very tallest weeds -- goldenrod and such -- and lots of the invasive wild clematis. I also decimated a few clumps of grass (yes, clumps of grass growing in the perennial beds). I trimmed up the suckers on the big maple tree, and cut out a wild honeysuckle that annoys me no end. Maybe I can get the aforementioned parishioner to dig that thing out by the roots (interwined as they are with the maple roots) -- but at least I had the pleasure of lopping it off clear to the ground. Oh, it was satisfying, and at the end of the day I had that familiar hitch in my gitalong that comes from lots of bending and pulling and carrying armloads and wheelbarrow loads of weeds and sticks out to the weed pile and fire pit. Of course, I could see the difference, but as I tried to view those beds with more objective eyes, I kept thinking that if others saw those beds, they'd only say, "How poorly kept these flower beds are!" Sigh. But I confess I turned on my front porch light and walked outside last night, just to see the difference that I wrought with my very own two hands.
Today I agreed to adopt another kitty. I've always had cats, but my last one died two years ago, shortly before I left for Italy. A parishioner is moving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (WHY, in God's name???), and can't take her cat. Today she asked me if I'd take it (and all its supplies), even if just to find it a good home. Inexplicably, I found myself saying, "Yes!" Well, my dogs, as I've probably told you, have been longing for a kitty. They've been asking me to get them a kitty for months, now -- ever since one (or more) of the cats next door had a litter. They stand in the chair by my study window and whine as they watch those kitties frolicking. And this kitty seems like a good bet -- declawed (and I don't even have to bear the guilt for doing it), spayed, all her shots. An indoor/outdoor kitty, I think. And both my dogs get along ok with kitties, so we'll see how it goes. I hope it's a bold kitty that will train them to have good kitty manners, rather than a timid one that I can merely pity and quarantine to the upstairs. All I have to do is decide how to keep the dogs out of the cat box and cat food. Our new family member will move in sometime this week. Someday I'll tell you the story of how I changed from a lifelong cat person to a dog person.
And another happy thing happened today -- I worked for a couple of hours on the veggie garden. I've been carpeting the paths (I have those lovely, timber-lined, raised beds that I made this spring) with newspaper and covering the paper with the abundant wood-chip mulch that is from one of my big maple trees that were taken down this year. It really looks tidy, and takes care of all the ragweed that has flourished in that garden for years. And the nice thing is that, since I subscribe to the newspaper and have such a huge pile of mulch, I can do it over and over again, whenever the mulch and paper break down. After I used up my current supply of newspaper on the paths, I threw several wheelbarrows full of mulch around the outside of the fence. I have this very poorly maintained border around the outside of the veggie garden, designed to keep the blasted weeds and grass from creeping in through the fence from the outside. Of course, I have grass and ground ivy (how I hate that stuff) creeping in all around the edges, because I don't keep it up. I still have one long (35-foot) side to mulch, but it looks so much neater!
We had such a hot, dry summer (despite days of rain, we're still on water restrictions, including no outside watering or at-home car washing), and I did very little work in the gardens for months. I forgot how very good it feels. I forgot how I want to walk around after dark and in the morning, and see the good work I've done. I forgot how the resultant aches and pains remind me of what good work I did. I forgot that feeling that must be a little like God felt, walking around in Eden in the cool of the evening, admiring God's handiwork. Tonight I've got that. I think I'm going to take a short stroll by the veggie garden, and survey my 10 feet of new path, and my 30 feet or so of newly-mulched border! This weekend's work has reminded me of how soul-feeding, how soul-necessary it is for me to work in my gardens. Now visions of manure and mulch and pruning are dancing in my head once again. There's much to do before winter sets in, and I'm anticipating it all with great delight!
More good gardening news: the horticulturist I met at the farmer's market called me -- she and her husband decided not to move out of town, and she's looking for work. I'm going to use her as a "gardening coach" (I guess that's what the cool people have these days) -- to come and work alongside me every week or two, but also to advise me how I can make these many beautiful flower beds more manageable (including eliminating some of them -- I have two in mind for transplant and destruction!).
The other thing I did this weekend was to revise my study schedule for the Haden Program (my training for spiritual director certification). This revision was to compensate for how dismally I've fallen behind my original work assignment plan that I made in September. I've devised a reading and writing schedule that seems to be working (just finished another required book -- only 7.5 books and 4 short papers to go by mid-December), and I'm confident that, even though I fell behind, I can still complete all the course requirements by January, when I'm due to graduate. Of course, that means I've got to stop this post right now, so I can go do my reading and some work on one of my papers. I'll let you know how it goes.