Friday, November 27, 2015

Becoming My Neighbor

      I remember when contemplating retirement around ten years ago I tried to envision what life would be like without a structured workday.  That’s rather difficult to do when you’ve toiled eight hours a day for decades but something I vowed I would never do is become one of those fussy seniors who obsess daily over their garden and yard.

     Fast forward to present.  I am retired now and find myself recalling those earlier vows with mixed feelings.  To be honest, my yard does not compete aesthetically with those of my neighbors.  They have lush green weedless (not a word Microsoft says, maybe weedfree?  Nope. Oh well)  thick sod that could easily replace the fairway on hole number nine at the master’s course in Augusta.

     My yard is, well, more diverse I like to say since diversity is a buzzword nowadays.  Sure, there is grass.  But there’s lichen, moss, dandelions, clover, wildflowers, and numerous other species of weeds, er, plants that are still green, but nearly as appealing to curbside onlookers.

     But . . . it’s looking better since I retired.  I’ve trimmed dead branches, pulled weeds from around the house, kept the grass cut and the leaves raked to the point where I don’t think my neighbors shake their heads when they look in our direction.  In fact, I think my efforts may have unnerved one of my neighbors.

     He always cuts his grass twice to my once and is constantly out manicuring his own personal greenspace.  He almost takes offense if my grass is shorter than his.  Once when I cut my grass, my wife and I noticed he was cutting his own lawn after dark, so as to keep up with Big Dave we thinks.

     I’m still not that obsessive.  But I’ve learned that yardwork is something simple, easily fits in with other daily activities, provides some pride when things look pretty, and is good for your heart.   I still avoid using chemicals or noisy machines like leaf blowers and gas-powered edgers.  Call me an environmentalist.  Or that’s my excuse anyway (can’t be that I’m just cheap).

     In the past I’ve been a season behind in my yardwork, trying to run the gas out of my mower when the temperature already has been freezing, or pulling out the remains of my garden when there’s snow about.  But I’ve become more pro-active all-round.  My snow shoveling and outside holiday decorating had been tardy in my working years.  Not so much now.

     In fact, as I was shoveling snow off the walk this past week I looked around the neighborhood and thought to myself, “Something doesn’t look right.”  Then I figured it out.  Nearly all of the walks around me were still snow-covered.  I was among the first to shovel.  That is a good thing . . . I guess.