B is for Boisterous

The blooming bush beans are boisterous. That’s today’s good news from my vegetable garden. The not-so-good news? The weeds, too, are boisterous.


Clearly, I have done an excellent job of keeping the soil fertile, aerated, and suitably watered. Plants of all pedigrees, refined and dodgy, are keen to move in, grow, and multiply. And they have.

My problem is that I insist on believing the bush beans I planted have exclusive rights to the area I allotted for them. This belief is not shared by the hordes of purslane, morning glory, black nightshade, dandelion, pigweed, and quackgrass that have crashed the garden party. I tried to hold a black tie and tails event, and it’s been overrun by riffraff in jeans and sneakers.

My carefully served up toasted brioche rounds with crème fraîche and caviar, the fruits de mer, and the pâté with white truffles are vanishing down the maws of the uninvited. I’m trying to be a good host, trying to tolerate the jostling crowds, and be oh-so politically correct, but my polite smile grows ever more brittle. (The bush beans abandoned civility long ago.)

No. That’s it. No more hoi polloi. This party needs a bouncer. It’s time to act.

As dawn breaks, I trade my black tie for a silver trowel, and exchange my stiff upper lip for stubborn determination. One by one, I doggedly remove the intruders. Time passes. The sun climbs higher. The compost pile expands. Finally, the riffraff have been escorted off the premises.


Now the beans luxuriate in their newfound, airy accommodation, and I relax with a glass of what’s left of the bubbly. Both I and the bush beans know the reprieve is temporary, but it’s still worth celebrating.



P.S. – for the youngsters of the household, I present my video, Letter B and the Secret Window:


Grunt-Work Glory

There aren’t many things I excel at, but when it comes to grunt work – I’m your man. Don’t take that literally. I’m not your man, so don’t bother calling on me to transplant your 50-year-old oak tree, the one that needs to move six feet to the left to give your picture window the perfect view. Oak trees, I firmly believe, have just as much right to that view.

But, it’s another matter if the asker is five feet two inches tall with chocolate-brown eyes, and not that cheapo milk-chocolate brown, but the kind with high octane cocoa content. Add a smile that sparkles and an intellect that crackles, and then you’re talking about my sweetheart. Yes, I’m her man, and if she wants her 50-year-old oak tree moved, that tree is going to take a walk.

Fortunately for me, my sweetheart doesn’t have an oak tree, and her view is doing just fine, thank-you very much. What she does have is a corner of her yard that’s gone seedy and weedy, and looks like its entire resident jungle is getting ready to apply for welfare. Positioned at one end of her small but productive vegetable garden, it’s like the guy who slouches against the wall while the hero bounds in and does all the work.

Hero. Now, there’s an image! Picture me, giant S on my chest, cape fluttering behind, as I bound in to vanquish the sloucher. Do you gasp with awe?

Reality, of course, has me dressed in an old pair of shorts with paint stains, and a T-shirt that’s been darned, twice. Instead of fists of steel, I have work gloves and my favourite tool, a long-handled eye hoe. No doubt all the women in the neighbourhood are swooning over the flutter of my imaginary cape as I work on the weedy patch of ground, peeling back the sod and weeds with the hoe, and shovelling out the deeper roots.

There are rocks, lumps of concrete, bits of plastic, and a metal rack to remove. Like squatters, over the years they have sneaked in from parts unknown and made themselves at home. Perhaps I should feel a twinge of guilt as I displace them and prepare the ground for a new development, but I don’t. Colour me heartless, I guess.


Or maybe not. I’ve only cleared half of the area so far, and have given a reprieve to the other half. Yes, it’s all because of my caring heart. Truly, it is for no other reason. Ignore the fact that 20 years ago I would have cleared the whole area in one session, gone for a brisk 10 kilometre run, then thrown down a hundred push-ups.

These days, dripping with wisdom instead of sweat, I prefer to ration my fun. I hate to use it all up at once.